In its annual review of business conditions, the trade association for Italian manufactrers of machine tools, robots, and automation systems said its members closed 2013 “in a stationary condition,” but it offered more encouragement for business conditions in 2014.
“Compared with the previous results, exports show a slight downturn, while an improvement seems to appear in the domestic market,” according to UCIMU – Sistemi per Produrre.
The +200 members of UCIMU account for over 70% of Italy’s manufacturing technology sector. The group reported that its members’ 2013 production totaled €4.8 billion ($6.5 billion), a 1% decrease compared to the previous year’s total.
Italian exports of manufacturing technology drove production in that sector, totaling €3.6 billion ($4.9 billion), a result that was essentially even (-0.2%) versus 2012, but representing 75.6% of total production for the Italian machine tool sector.
UCIMU added research that showed exports during the first eight months of 2013 were primarily destined for: China (+9.5% versus 2012, to €294 million/$398.6 million); the United States (+9.8%, €254 million/$344.4 million); Germany (-9.6%, €204 million/$276.6 million); Russia (+6.7%, €125 million/$169.5 million); and France (-19.1%, €90 million/$122 million.)
Brazil, India, Turkey, Mexico, and Poland completed the top 10 list of export destination.
The Italian domestic market “seems to have reached rock bottom,” according to the UCIMU statement. Consumption was stable, year on year, totaling €2.05 billion ($2.8 billion, -1.6% versus 2012), with deliveries down 3.4% to €1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) and imports up just 0.7% to €890 million ($1.2 billion.)
UCIMU stated its forecast is for its member companies’ 2014 production to increase 4.6% over 2013, to €5 billion ($6.8 billion). It sees exports increasing 4.6%, to €3.8 billion ($5.15 million,) and the export/production ration to remain steady at 75.6%.
Perhaps most important, UCIMU forecast that deliveries totals will make a positive move, after three consecutive down years. “Thanks to a 4.7% increase, they will reach €1.22 billion ($1.65 billion), driven by the recovery in domestic consumption, which will reach €2.14 billion ($2.9 billion), 4.4% more than in 2013.”
The association also forecast that manufacturing technology imports in Italy would increase 3.9% in 2014, reaching €925 million ($1.25 billion.)
"The most evident data is without any doubt the increase in domestic consumption, which after years of stagnation seems to show a positive trend, however small,” observed Luigi Galdabine, president of UCIMU. “In other words, demand is there, but there is still a problem of liquidity among Italian companies, which can obtain bank loans with extreme difficulty."
He called on Italian regulators to simplify tax policies that discourage manufacturers from borrowing capital to invest in new equipment and business expansions.