ASSAGO, Italy—Italian rubber and plastics machinery trade association Amaplast has reported a 3.6 percent year-over-year growth in revenue in 2018, without giving detailed figures for sales.
Data released by the association, which represents 170 plastics and rubber processing machinery companies, show that machinery production increased last year—albeit marginally, by a about 0.6 percent.
Exports, which have been described by Amaplast as "the powerhouse for the sector," however, contracted by 1.5 percent during the year while imports and the domestic Italian market expanded by 3.1 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.
"On the whole, we can say we are happy with the results from the previous year," Amaplast President Alessandro Grassi said.
However, Grassi predicted that 2018 may turn out to be "a transition year," which will see an "inversion of trends" in 2019 after eight years of consecutive growth.
"Companies are beginning to show signs of concern regarding the effects of the new governmental budget policies and the general trend in the economy," Grassi said, referring to the tax incentive overhaul in Italy and international developments such as Brexit and the U.S.-China trade war.
In terms of regions, sales in Europe—which is historically the main market for Italian manufacturers—were flat at 60.1 percent of total revenue, marginally losing ground to the rest of Europe.
In the Americas, the NAFTA countries performed well, especially Mexico, while South America was impacted by a lackluster economy in the two principal markets of Brazil and Argentina.
A "sudden slump" in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Iran, contributed to a slight decline in sales to Asia. The negative trend in China offset the "remarkable growth" in India, Amaplast said.
The top 10 export destinations remained the same last year with Germany leading the pack. Exports to Germany, however, declined by 2.2 percent last year, to $543,000.