2018: Italian Export

In 2018, the Italian exports of machine tools increased by 8.1% to 3,423 million euro.

The quarterly trend was positive for the whole year, with the highest point (+9.6%) in the third quarter and the lowest point (+6.2%) in the fourth quarter.


In 2018, the Italian shares in the main world markets remained almost stable, despite the higher dynamism of our exports given the trend of world consumption.

In China, the Italian share on total sales stood at 1.4%, showing an improvement of 0.1 point versus 2017.

In the United States, Italian manufacturers met 4.3% of the demand, gaining 0.1% even in this case. The Italian share in the German market decreased by 0.1%, amounting to 5.7% of the total local consumption.

On the contrary, Italian manufacturers lost ground in Brazil, where they covered 5.5% of the market, with a 0.3% drop. In India, Italian machines met only 3% of the demand, reporting a slight increase versus 2017.

In the Russian market, which has always been a traditional destination for our exports, the Italian share rose to 6.2%.

The analysis conducted on the geographic distribution of Italian exports in the last decade shows that, despite the continuous changes in the world scenario, the Made by Italians was able to meet the requirements of customers, also penetrating the most dynamic areas of the international scene from time to time.

The European Union is confirmed as the first area of destination for Italian sales and the export share absorbed by the area grew from 42.1% in 2009 to 49.1% in 2018. Non-EU European countries lost weight, going from 10.3% to 8.9%.

The relevance of North America for the Italian exports of the sector increased significantly: indeed, its share on the total exports went from 10.3% in 2009 to 14.4% in 2018. The outcome was made possible by the recovery and by the growth of the manufacturing activity in the countries of the area.

A strong downturn was recorded in the share of exports to Asia, going from 27.4% to 21%. A decrease was registered also in the weight of South America (from 5.2% to 2.4%) and of Africa (from 3.6% to 2.8%).

In 2018, the exports to the European Union rose by 15.9% to 1,681 million euro. As in 2017, the first EU and world market was Germany (394 million euro, +15.1%), followed by Poland (229 million euro, +41.7%), France (227 million euro, +6.7%) and Spain (144 million euro, +7.9%). There was a slight recovery in the exports to the United Kingdom (+3%), which reached 80 million euro.

A strong upturn was reported with regard to the sales within the rest of the European continent, (+8.3%, amounting to 305 million euro). In detail, exports grew considerably in Russia (99.6 million euro, +11.9%) and in Switzerland (63.4 million euro, +14.9%) and more moderately in Turkey (89.7 million euro, +2.6%).

The exports to North America were stationary, (+1.2%, 493 million euro). In 2018, the United States of America were the second market of destination for the Italian product offering of the sector, with 354 million euro (+11.5%). The exports of Made by Italians grew even in Canada, (49.9 million euro, +4.5%). Nevertheless, a strong fall was registered in the sales to Mexico (89 million euro, -26.9%).

A positive performance was obtained in South America, which increased its purchases from Italy by 14.9%, for a value of 83.7 million euro. In the top positions were Brazil (43.5 million euro, +7.8%) and Argentina (14.9 million euro, +7.4%).

Exports to Asia, second market of destination for the “Made by Italians”, remained stationary at -0.4%, totalling 718 million euro.

East Asia accounted for the largest share of the total exports to this area, purchasing Italian machine tools for an amount of 433 million euro, i.e. -0,8% versus 2017. In detail, sales were stationary in China (-0.4%, 341 million euro), whereas deliveries increased in Japan (+25.5%, 36.3 million euro) and in South Korea (+4.8%, 35.4 million euro).

A very strong growth was reported with regard to the exports to Southern Asia: +60.5% for an amount of 102 million euro. Excellent results were achieved both in India (84 million euro, +55.9%) and in Bangladesh (11 million euro, +117.5%).

The Middle East reduced its purchases of Italian machine tools, (-10.6%, 100 million euro). Despite a rise in Saudi Arabia, (+16.5%, 27.8 million euro), sales dropped in Israel (-14%, 20.5 million euro), in the United Arab Emirates         (-31.7%, 17.8 million euro) and in Iran (-15.5%, 11.2 million euro). A strong downturn was recorded in the sales to the ASEAN area, down by 23.8% to 82.4 million euro. Malaysia ranked first (-45.1%, 17.4 million euro), followed by Vietnam (-20.5%, 16.7 million euro) and Indonesia (-21.2%, 15.2 million euro). The sales to Oceania went up (+7%), amounting to 45.1 million euro.

Exports to Africa dropped by 11.6% to 96.1 million euro: a reduction was reported in the sales to Algeria (31.4 million euro, -24.8%), to South Africa (13.3 million euro, -13.3%) and to Morocco (11.8 million euro, -8.4%); on the contrary, the deliveries to Egypt showed a positive sign (13.6 million euro, +9.4%).

The export analysis must take into account the situation created by the common currency: sales to the countries of the Eurozone are an intermediate statistic figure between actual exports and deliveries in the domestic market. In this sense, in 2018, a share of 44% of Italian output was delivered within the domestic market, 18% of the sales went to Eurozone countries and 38% was exported outside the Eurozone.