Milan, Italy – Declining trade and low demand caused by Covid-19 pandemic have hit the Italian rubber & plastics machinery industry, with full recovery only likely in 2022, according to trade association Amaplast.
Citing import-export data recently published by ISTAT, Amaplast said machinery exports to Americas collapsed 27% in the first three months of the year, nearly matching the 28% year-on-year losses in Asia.
With the global economy in downturn, investments are at a standstill in the plastics and rubber industries, said the association in a 29 June statement.
The situation, it said, 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 and the packaging sector in general are doing well, the association added.
“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,” said Amaplast.
"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."
Breaking down first quarter export figures show declines of 24% in exports to the US, 16% for Mexico and 37% for Brazil.
In Asia, exports to China fell 27% year-on-year over the three months to end of March, while India and Indonesia recorded declines of 6% and 75% respectively.
In Europe, the drop was limited to 4%, with exports showing the following trends in the main outlet markets.
Exports to Germany fell 3% over the first quarter, while Spain and France posted 40% and 21% decreases respectively.
Export figures for Poland and UK were in the positive territory, at 40% and 8% increases respectively.
Russia registered the strongest growth at 218%, Amaplast said.
Sales in Africa remained broadly constant, although the two main outlet markets – Morocco and South Africa - recorded downturns of 20% and 28% respectively.
According to Amaplast, while the drop in orders had immediate consequences for auxiliaries manufacturers, providers of more complex and costly plants, with longer delivery times, “will feel the main impact further down the line, even in 2021.”
The contraction in orders, Amaplast said, is compounded by personal travel restrictions, resulting in slower or deferred installations and repairs and hence delays in payments.