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ITALIAN MACHINERY LANDS AT CERAMICS CHINA 2008
Cementing Italy’s leadership in the ceramics sector by taking on their opponents in their domestic market. This could be, in summary, the mission of the Italian delegation to Ceramics China 2008 , the main Asian trade fair devoted to technologies for the ceramics and tiling industry, which will also include Italian producers thanks to the attending delegation coordinated by ICE (the Italian Trade Commission) in cooperation with ACIMAC , the umbrella organisation for Italian makers of ceramics machinery. The show’s 22nd edition will be held in Guangzhou, at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre, from 21 to 24 May.
The Chinese event is gaining in relevance, as proven by the increased exhibition surface: 2004’s 18,000 square meters have more than doubled in the space of three editions, reaching 45,000 square meters last year. Ceramics China is now recognized as a premium display venue both for Chinese and international exhibitors who wish to pick up novelties and sector trends. The event’s growing weight is linked to China’s uncontested leadership, in terms of productivity, in the ceramics sector: over three quarters of the world’s ceramics is made in China, where many traditionally European manufacturers have relocated their production plants.
Even though China is climbing the charts, the Italian ceramics industry can still boast important figures: in 2006 (latest data from Assopiastrelle, the Italian tile manufacturers’ umbrella organisation, www.confindustriaceramica.it) the Italian tile manufacturing sector’s turnover settled at 5.7 billion euros (+6.87% year-on-year), of which 875.9 billion euros were invoiced abroad. Italy therefore remains one of the key producers in this sector, both in terms of the finished product, as well as in designing and producing tooling machinery – a sector which “Made in Italy” brands have been leading since the Seventies, now with a global reach.
The machinery manufacturing sector comprises 160 companies and 7,000 employees. In 2006 (source: ACIMAC), it recorded a turnover of 1,702.1 million euros, down 4.2% from last year’s numbers (in absolute terms, 75 million euros less), but up 6.8% from 2004. ACIMAC does not consider the downturn to be a structural, but rather the result of circumstances, like the slowdown in technological investments in a few important ceramics importing countries. Starting from the Middle East, for example, which dropped 24.4%, as did the rest of Asia (China excluded), down 21.1%. Exports remain very strong, with export profits touching 73.1% of total sector turnover (1,243.8 million euros in value).
In terms of export quotas, Europe is the main market with 39.7%, followed by Asia (33.5%), America (15.1%) and finally Africa (11.1%). The export “pie” is divided in several same-size pieces, demonstrating a global presence spread across all continents. This guarantees stability in the sector, as it does not depend just from one market and is thus able to compensate slowdowns in some regions.
Insofar as 2007 is concerned, ACIMAC estimates the year to have compounded the ceramics machinery sector’s previous turnover figures, in alignment with a highly stable sector. In order to continue to defend their market share, Italian companies focus on two strategic platforms: partial outsourcing and/or pursuing increased quality.