Lesprom– In 2019, Italian industry of woodworking machinery and tools down 9.9% to value of Euro 2,266 million, reported Acimall, the Confindustria member association that represents industry companies. Such drop resulted from an “acceptable” trend in the first part of the year, followed by more significant reductions that affected all major international competitors, Germany on top.
Photo: Acimall Studies office
In 2019, exports recorded an 8% reduction, showing a solid trend in the traditional destination markets. Fortunately, Italy has largely differentiated export flows, so the serious difficulties in some markets were offset by more positive trends in others. On the domestic market, the drop amounted to 13.5%, reversing the trend of an index that had been positive for five years, also supported by fiscal incentives that enabled many companies to upgrade their equipment fleet in the 2016-2018 period, with inevitable consequences on purchasing volumes in the subsequent years.
An even stronger reduction affected import, down by 17%, while the trade balance remained at a high level (Euro 1.4 billion).
Exports to France closed 2019 with a 5% increase over the previous year, reaching a total value of Euro 110 million. Exports to Germany decreased 9.3% to Euro 102 million, while the exports to Poland (-20%) was strongly affected by the very positive trend of recent years, when massive investments saturated demand and caused the current “pause for reflection”, said Acimall in a statement.
In Europe, the Acimall Studies office highlights the reduction of exports to Spain (-8.9%) and the United Kingdom (-13%). A special mention for Russia and Turkey: the former, after several years of crisis due to currency and banking issues, suffered from a 9% reduction, stopping at Euro 38 million. The latter, after running at high levels for a few years, absorbed Euro 11 million of Italian exports, down by over 50% from 2018.
A solid trend was recorded in North America, where the United States were by far the top destination of Italian woodworking machinery, though recording a 5% decrease from 2018 for a total value just below Euro 200 million.
In South America, Argentina keeps falling, losing over 50% to Euro 6 million, while Brazil is back to growth, with made-in-Italy supplies up by 30 Euro20 million
Photo: Acimall Studies office
In the Middle East, Italy sold machinery worth Euro 33 million, 14% less than the previous year, while in the Far East, China reaffirmed its established leadership, purchasing Euro 63 million of Italian technology, 17.4% less than in 2018. Such decrease should be considered carefully and traced back to the increasing difficulties of Italian companies in their internationalization process and the improving technological expertise of local equipment manufacturers, which reduced the number of market niches that foreign manufacturers can access, noted Acimall. In addition, the introduction of import duties penalized the Asian furniture industry, and consequently had a negative impact on technology demand.
In 2019, Australia purchased 38% fewer woodworking and furniture machines from Italy, with a total value of Euro 20 million. Like Poland and other countries, also in this case the negative trend is largely due to very positive results in 2018, so the year under scrutiny is basically showing a process of market value stabilization. In Africa, Italian exports dropped by 25% on the whole.
“Now more than ever, it is essential to understand the economic situation of the industries we represent,” said Dario Corbetta, director of Acimall. “We are facing a period that will require strong nerves and a strong and proactive central economic policy like never before, without which the wood machinery business might pay a very high price. The effects of Covid-19, as reported by our Studies office, will unfortunately add to the significant slowdown recorded in 2019, resulting into a trend that will require an even bigger effort to go back to 2016-2018 levels.”