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COVERINGS 2008: ITALY IS PRESENT WITH A MARBLE EXHIBITION
The appointment is in Orlando, Florida, from 29th April to 2nd May at the first 2008 event to promote and highlight the value of Italian marbles and construction stones in the United States. The sector will be represented at the Coverings 2008 event with a Marbles Exhibition organized by the ICE, the Italian Trade Commission. Coverings is the leading international trade fair exclusively devoted to showing the latest novelties in ceramic tiles and natural stone. It grew to become the largest and most important trade fair of its kind in the United States, with 1,300 exhibitors from over 50 countries and approximately 37 thousand people between distributors, retailers, producers, entrepreneurs and tile-layers, architecture and design professionals, builders and estate agents. The event is the launching pad towards market entry for some of the most innovative tile and stone products in the world.
The Orlando date is a crucial event for this Italian industry sector. During the past several years Italian businesses have established strategies and tactics to remain buoyant in a very difficult market such as North America, where there is a slowdown in the construction industry that also affects the stoneware sector. The American real estate market has been static for a while, due to the uncertainty linked to the 2008 presidential elections, and analysts reckon that the instability ‚Äď if not the contraction ‚Äď of the market will last until the elections.
As well as by the US economy‚Äôs slowdown, the Italian tile and stone sector is also affected by the strength of the Euro. In the first nine months of 2007 ‚Äď says the Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara, analysing data from the Italian Statistical Office - exports towards the US market have definitely decreased, with the only exception being processed marble. Overall, during this period Italy exported almost 3.5 million tons of marble and granite worldwide, both raw and processed, for 1.426 million euros: in terms of volume, the balance was down 5.3% and up by 2.7% in terms of value compared with the same period of 2006. Customs data, however, don‚Äôt give the exact picture of the sector‚Äôs health status: Italian firms partly work with materials that have been processed abroad, which integrate the work done in Italy, while maintaining control and management of supplies.
Some sectors, however, are showing an opposing trend, like marble (especially Tuscan marble). Between January and September 2007, in a difficult context overall, the North-western Tuscany cluster recorded, compared to the same period in 2006, a comfortable growth in terms of volume, with 782,093 tons of exports (+12%) worth 388 million euros (+6,7%). Even in North America, where almost all sector operators have seen business slow down, Tuscan marbles ‚Äď especially the processed kind ‚Äď have on the contrary recorded a positive trend in terms of volumes and values, both in absolute and relative terms. For the Tuscan cluster therefore, what we can observe in the Italian masonry sector is even more true: Italian-made marble is confirmed as a highly competitive material at all levels, and in any form (from newly-extracted blocks, to refined and non-refined slate, to highly valuable processed goods).