2017: Italian Export

In 2017, Italian exports of machine tools only (excluding robotics) grew by 3.4%, to 3,165 million euro. The quarterly trend was positive for the whole year. After a moderate rise in the first two quarters (+2.7% and +2.6%), in the third quarter there was a peak (+9.3%), followed by a substantial sales stability in the last part of the year (only +0.1%).


In 2017, the Italian shares in the main world markets generally decreased due to the fact that the growth of our exports was lower than the world consumption increase.

In China, the Italian share on total imports stood at 1.3%, the same level as in 2016.

In the United States, Italian manufacturers covered 4.7% of local demand, losing almost one percentage point compared with the previous year. The Italian share in the German market dropped by 0.7%, corresponding to 5.7% of local consumption.

On the other hand, Italian manufacturers increased their share in Brazil, where they covered 5.8% of the market, with an increase of over one point. In India, Italian machines met only 2.7% of local demand, thus losing 1.3 points versus 2016.

In the Russian market, which was once a traditional destination for our exports, the Italian share remained stable at 6.4%.

The analysis carried out on the geographic distribution of Italian exports over the last decade shows that, despite the continuous changes in the world scenario, the Made by Italians was able to meet the needs of customers, also penetrating the most dynamic areas of the international stage.

The European Union is always the first destination area for Italian sales, but the export share, absorbed by the area, considerably decreased from 48.7% in 2008 to 45.9% in 2017. Non-EU European countries also lost weight from 12.2% to 8.9%.

In the observed period, a strong recovery was highlighted with regard to the share of North America, which increased from 9.5% in 2008 to 15.4% of the total exported by manufacturers in 2017 - an outcome made possible by the growth of the manufacturing activity in the countries of this area.

A smaller rise was registered in the share of exports to Asia, going from 19.8% in 2008 to 22.8%; on the contrary, the share absorbed by South America decreased from 5.2% in 2008 to 2.3% in 2017. The weight of Africa was stable (3.4%).

In 2017, the exports to the European Union grew by 2.4% to 1,451 million euro. As in 2016, the first EU and world market was Germany (343 million euro, -9.1%), followed by France (213 million euro, -5.1%), Poland (162 million euro, +17.8%), Spain (134 million euro, +15.3%) and the United Kingdom (77 million euro, -6.1%), which reported a new downturn after the very negative performance of last year.

A strong upturn was registered in the sales within the rest of the European continent, +10.3%, for a value of 282 million euro. In detail, exports were up in Russia (89 million euro, +16.8%), remained unchanged in Turkey (87.5 million euro, -0.2%) and decreased in Switzerland (55.2 million euro, -4%).

The sales in North America went down by 2.9% to 487 million euro. In 2017, the United States were the third destination market for the Italian product offering of the sector, with 318 million euro (-9.8%); the exports of Made by Italians also dropped in Canada (47.7 million euro, -5.1%). The performance of Mexico showed a quite opposite trend: +22.6% for an amount of 122 million euro.

A drop was recorded also with regard to the sales in South America, which reduced its purchases from Italy by 5.1%, for an amount of 72.9 million euro. A negatively performing player of 2017 was Argentina, which imported Italian machine tools for an amount of 13.8 million euro (-25.7%). On the rise were the exports to Brazil (40.3 million euro, +11.2%), Colombia (4 million euro, +77.1%) and Ecuador (3.1 million euro, +63.1%).

Exports to Asia, second destination market for the Made by Italians, grew by 6.7% to 721 million euro.

East Asia absorbed the largest share of the total exports to this area, purchasing Italian machine tools for an amount of 437 million euro, 8.2% more than in 2016. In detail, sales started to grow again in China (+8.2%, 342 million euro), Japan (+71.1%, 28.9 million euro), Taiwan (+15.6%, 21.7 million euro). On the contrary, deliveries decreased in South Korea (‑18.1%, 33.7 million euro).

In Southern Asia, exports dropped by 19.8%, to 63.7 million euro; the fall reported in the area was due to the negative performance of sales in India (-23.1%), down to 53.9 million euro. The sales growth in the ASEAN area kept on, highlighting a 24% upturn and reaching the value of 108 million euro. In first place ranked Malaysia (31.7 million euro, +5.6%), followed by Vietnam (21 million euro, +672.5%) and Indonesia (19.3 million euro, +130%).

Middle East increased its purchases of Italian machine tools by 6.3%, to 112 million euro. Exports went up in the United Arab Emirates (+4.8%, 26.1 million euro), in Israel (+23%, 23.8 million) and in Iran (+89.5%, 13.2 million euro). Deliveries were stationary in Saudi Arabia (-0.8%, 23.8 million euro). Sales to Oceania also grew (+24.1%), attaining 42.1 million euro.

Exports to Africa increased by 7%, to 109 million euro: they were driven by the positive trend of sales in Algeria (41.8 million euro, +8%), South Africa (15.4 million euro, +20.8%) and Morocco (12.9 million euro, +27.4%); on the contrary, there was a negative result with regard to Egypt (-19.8%).

The export analysis must take into account the situation created by the common currency: the sales in the countries of the Eurozone are an intermediate statistical figure between actual exports and deliveries in the domestic market. In this sense, in 2017 a share of 42% of the Italian production was delivered in the domestic market, 18% of the sales went to Eurozone countries and 40% was exported outside the Eurozone.