Canadian Plastics

Bad start to the year for Italian machinery industry, association says

Declining imports and exports caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created losses for the Italian rubber and plastics machinery industry during the first three months of 2020, with full recovery unlikely before 2022, according to new figures from trade association Amaplast.

August 10, 2020   Canadian Plastics

Declining imports and exports caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created losses for the Italian rubber and plastics machinery industry during the first three months of 2020, with full recovery unlikely before 2022, according to new figures from trade association Amaplast.

“The import-export data recently published by ISTAT and elaborated by the Statistical Studies Centre of Amaplast…points to declining foreign trade flows during the first three months of the year, with losses in March reaching 7% for imports and 13% for exports with respect to the same period in 2019,” Amaplast said in a new report. “These are only the first effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We may expect them to peak in the coming months and be followed by long-lasting aftereffects, since the worst of the pandemic is not yet behind us”.

The damage has been especially severe in the American market, Amaplast said, with Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery exports collapsing in this part of the world (-27%), nearly matching losses in Asia (-28%).

“The current scenario sees the global economy in downturn, with investments at a standstill, also for plastics and rubber industries,” Amaplast said. “The situation is particularly dire for automotive and building applications, where demand has fallen to extremely low levels. On the other hand, healthcare and cleaning/personal-hygiene product containers are doing well (packaging sector is generally holding steady).”

A breakdown of the first quarter export figures show declines of 24% for the U.S., 16% for Mexico, and 37% for Brazil. In Asia, there were declines of 27% for China, 6% for India, and 75% for Indonesia.

Concerning Europe, Amaplast said, the decline is limited to -4%, with exports showing the following trends in the main outlet markets: Exports to Germany fell 3%, exports to Spain fell 40%, and exports to France fell 21%. Exports to Poland were actually up by 40%; exports to the UK were up by 8%; and exports to Russia showed strong growth, increasing by 218%.

Sales in Africa remained “broadly constant,” Amaplast said, although the two main outlet markets of Morocco and South Africa reported declines of 20% and 28% respectively.

As far as Italy’s domestic market, Amaplast said, it was “already weak [and] is also suffering. It does not currently appear to benefit to any great extent from the emergency measures implemented by the Government to counter the crisis.”

“After the fallback in 2019, with 6% drops in production and exports…2020 is not going to be a rebound year for the Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery industry, one of the country’s mainstays in mechanical engineering,” Amaplast concluded. “It is difficult to make forecasts, but most certainly the return to pre-crisis levels will not happen in 2021, a full recovery only likely in 2022.”


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