Ucimu Members' Meeting Italian tool makers report strong upturn following 2020 plunge

Editor: Alexander Stark

Italy — In 2020, the Italian manufacturing industry of machine tools, robots and automation systems reported a considerable fall of all main economic indicators. Nonetheless, it was able to maintain the positions gained in the international rankings of the sector, where it confirmed its fourth place among manufacturing countries and among exporting countries.

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The president of Ucimu, Barbara Colombo, (middle) at the Annual Members’ Meeting, and Gregorio De Felice, Chief Economist of Intesa Sanpaolo (right) and Mauro Alfonso, Managing Director of Simest (left)
The president of Ucimu, Barbara Colombo, (middle) at the Annual Members’ Meeting, and Gregorio De Felice, Chief Economist of Intesa Sanpaolo (right) and Mauro Alfonso, Managing Director of Simest (left)
(Source: Ucimu)

Following a rather difficult year 2020, Italian Manufacturers of machine tools, robots and automation systems expect 2021 to bring a turnaround. Economic trends show a recovery of business activity, both in Italy and abroad, since the first months, as highlighted by the data regarding the index of orders in the first half year 2021 and based on the forecasts for the year end. This is in brief the framework illustrated by the president of Ucimu, Barbara Colombo, at the Annual Members’ Meeting. Speakers included Gregorio De Felice, Chief Economist of Intesa Sanpaolo, and Mauro Alfonso, Managing Director of Simest.

Heavily hit by the public health emergency outbreak in the first months of the year, the Italian industry of the sector experienced a strong downturn of all main economic indicators in 2020. According to the final data processed by the Economic Studies Department & Business Culture of Ucimu, in 2020, the output of machine tools, robots and automation systems reached 5,182 million euro, recording a 20.4 percent fall compared with 2019. The outcome was due both to the reduction of manufacturers’ deliveries on the domestic market, down by 20.3 percent to 2,321 million euro, and by the downturn of exports, which amounted to 2,861 million euro, i.e. 20.5 percent less than in the previous year.

In 2020, the Italian machine tool consumption collapsed by 26.6 percent to 3,561 million euro, continuing the negative trend started in 2019.
In 2020, the Italian machine tool consumption collapsed by 26.6 percent to 3,561 million euro, continuing the negative trend started in 2019.
(Source: Ucimu)

In 2020, the main export markets for the Italian product offering were the United States (374 million euro, -11.3 percent), Germany (289 million euro, -23.1 percent), China (224 million euro, -26.1 percent), France (158 million euro -32.2 percent), Poland (143 million euro, -17.2 percent), Turkey (100 million euro, +29 percent), Russia (100 million euro, -16 percent), Spain (95 million euro, -34.1 percent). In 2020, the Italian machine tool consumption collapsed by 26.6 percent to 3,561 million euro, continuing the negative trend started in 2019. The year 2021 is having a completely different trend, showing signs of a strong recovery since the first months.

Forecasts for 2021

Based on the forecasts elaborated by the Economic Studies Department & Business Culture of Ucimu, the output of machine tools, robots and automation systems should grow by 10.9 percent to 5.7 billion euro. Exports should attain 3.1 billion euro, i.e. 9.4 percent more than in the previous year.

Consumption should also increase, almost reaching 4 billion euro, corresponding to a 10.9 percent rise compared with 2020. The dynamism of Italian demand should drive the deliveries of manufacturers, expected to go up to 2.6 billion euro (+12.7 percent), and imports, which should amount to 1.3 billion euro (+7.6 percent).

Orders in the first half year 2021

In order to understand the climate of trust arisen in these first months of the year, the association presented the index of orders in the first half of 2021, elaborated by the Economic Studies Department & Business Culture of Ucimu. The index registers the collection of orders in the domestic and foreign markets by Italian manufacturers. Considering the manufacturing lead time of machines, the acquisition of these orders will reasonably be “calculated” in the output/turnover of 2022.

In the first half year of 2021, the index of orders registered an 88.2 percent upturn. This result was due to the good performances recorded by the manufacturers both in the domestic and in the foreign markets. In particular, domestic orders grew by 238 percent compared with the period January-June 2020; foreign orders reported a 57.5 percent upturn versus the first half year of 2020. These really positive data are attesting to the restored climate of trust, which the Italian enterprises of the sector are increasingly experiencing as the months go by. This said, the increases seem so significant, also because they are compared with the period January-June 2020, which, besides the general activity reduction owing to the pandemic, includes a whole month (April) of complete stop in business activities due to the Covid lockdown.

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