In the first eight months of 2022 the worth of exports from Italian makers of machines, installations, tools and equipment to extract and process natural stones showed a decline on an annual basis of 4.8%. Revealing this was the data processed by the CONFINDUSTRIA MARMOMACCHINE Studies Center, which showed that in the period from January to August foreign sales of Italian stone technologies were worth 699.7 million euros versus the 734.9 million of the same period the previous year.
This decline can surely be partly viewed as a physiological reaction after the excellent levels reached in 2021, when there was a recoup of 18.5% that brought the Italian techno-stone sector back to pre-pandemic levels (+0.3% the difference from 2019) but it also should be mentioned that in recent months there was a big slowdown in production investments on several important target markets, in particular in the United Kingdom, in China – which continues to be penalized by restrictions to contain the pandemic – and in Egypt, with the latter two countries actually exiting the top ten tanking of destination nations.
More generally, the picture drawn by the figures for the first eight months of 2022 is in any case one of essential stability for the foreign sales of Italian makers of stone technologies – whose exports on average account for nearly 80% of the sector’s overall revenue – who until now demonstrated an extraordinary ability to adapt and react to the difficulties tied to the current international situation.
Looking in detail at the first 10 destination countries for these products we first of all see the record increase in exports to the United States (+30.6% from January-August 2021), confirmed as the leading market for Italian stone technologies with imports worth 128.8 million euros. Remaining basically stable were sales to the number two buyer, Spain (-2.6% from the excellent levels of 2021, for a total of 47 million), while those to Germany increased (+11.3%, in third place, with purchases of 38.8 million).
Among the most positive notes in 2022 were consolidated growth in exports to two traditional non-EU partners like India (+38.9%, fifth with 35 million) and Brazil (+47.3%, eighth with 28.5 million), and excellent performance in Canada (+22.3%, seventh with 31.8 million). There were downturns in exports to the United Kingdom (-28.7%, ninth with 26.4 million) and Portugal (-28.3%, tenth with 22.3 million).
If until August the statistics seemed in any case to confirm – despite well-known critical factors – good stability, the forecasts for later months were unfortunately none too optimistic. The sector had already seen a hike in prices for raw materials and components at the end of 2021, to which was added in the second half of 2021 the abnormal increase in energy costs. While not one of the most energy-intensive sectors, the prolongation of this situation is a further cause for worry for Italian makers of stone technologies as for the major part of Italian manufacturing companies, which in coming months will again be called upon to demonstrate their resilience capacity, to innovate and reposition themselves on international markets.
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