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MACHINE TOOLS EMERGING MARKETS TO THE RESCUE AFTER THE CRISIS
After the crisis, it is a time of growth, according to Ucimu-sistemi per produrre, the association of Italian manufacturers of machine tools, robots and automation. The economic scenario envisioned by its Research Department indicates a “redemption” of Italian production in emerging markets. Today, maintaining and improving the position of one of the strongest sectors of Italian industry is more than ever a question of outsourcing and of the capacity to ride the wave of growth inside the new global outlets countries.
“Italian manufacturers,” says Ucimu president Giancarlo Losma, “have always been oriented towards export and ready to refocus their offer on the more dynamic markets. They are accustomed to looking beyond their own borders, to where they send over half of their national production. In 2009, they exasperated this trend to circumvent difficulties caused by the block on investments in the domestic market.”
Economic analysis of the sector provides a snapshot of a two-speed industrial system: an internal market slowed down by recession and the risk of loss of competitiveness, against an overseas framework with great potential for expansion. Confirmation comes from the main export detectors: exports are expected to grow by 6.1% in 2010, with sales of 2.68 billion euro. In the medium to long term, the ratio of exports to production has seen a jump of +14%, from 46% in 2000 to 60% in 2008.
“Last year,” continues Losma, “the ratio of exports to Italian industrial manufacture of production systems rose to 61.7%, demonstrating the capacity of companies to know how to interpret the needs of users throughout the world. In this way, Italian companies have been able to deal with the crisis by intercepting demand even in distant countries, both geographically and culturally.”
There has been a decline in the sales of machine tools in Western Europe, America and Japan, while turnover has doubled in Asia, Oceania, Poland and Ukraine. The disconnect between mature markets and emerging local markets has grown due to the economic crisis that, in less than one year, has eroded almost one-third of domestic sales and exports. Exports have become a commercially sound anchor, guaranteed by countries like Germany, France, USA and China, that has enabled Italy to not lose ground in the international ranking of manufacturers in the sector. Italy is confirmed as third in the group of exporters and fourth in the list of producers.
The winds of crisis for Italian machine tool manufacturers showed an easing up in the first quarter of 2010: exports for the period registered a promising +24.9%. As expected, it has been foreign demand that has drawn the industry along. “In 2009,” notes the Ucimu president, “Germany, China, USA, France, Brazil, Russia, Spain, India, Poland and Turkey were the main outlet markets for Italian companies in the sector. In essence, all the BRIC countries are in the top ten positions, alongside the traditional markets.” Thus, the advance in international markets has become the main mission of the sector. Ucimu has been working for many years in this direction and, including through the support of projects undertaken in cooperation with ICE, has helped direct the Italian machine tools sector towards large-scale global distribution.