XIAMEN FIT IMPORT & EXPORT CO., LTD.

Italy-Import/Exports of Italian Marble and Granite Growing Again
click rate:2479 issue time:2008-11-01 17:04
Italian imports and exports of marble and granite: The United States and Europe are the leading markets for the first quarter of 2006 as well. Positive signs from the Far East and, despite everything, from the Middle East. Machinery exports also on the rise.
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In the period January to April 2006, Italy exported overall 1 million 440 thousand tons of raw and finished marble, granite, travertine, in different shapes and types, for a value of nearly 560 million euros (see enclosed Table), and imported a little less than 1 million tons of stone products, worth nearly 195 million euros. Compared with the exports for the same period in 2005, we can see a slight growth in quantity (+1%) and a more substantial rise in value (+9%) and a growth in imports by volume (+0.7%) and even more by value (+11.7%).
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These figures have been published by Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara that, as usual, has processed the statistics from ISTAT, the Central Statistics Office, about the domestic import/exports of stone for the first quarter of 2006, comparing them with those for the same period of 2005, to assess the industry trends.
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The statistic survey concerns a short period of time and can easily change, but it shows a positive trend in exports, which, considering the most significant items (marble and granite) which have increased by +5.8% in volume (excluding chips) and by +9.3% in value, confirm that finished products and marble in general are doing well.
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¡°It is clear that the positive trend of a large part of domestic exports, especially all things Made in Italy, is benefiting marble as well ¨C comments the president of IMM, Giancarlo Tonini ¨C with an increase in the mean value of exported products, which in our industry means finished marble and granite. A result that is also due to the efforts made by our companies, which keep aiming at producing top-quality products.¡±
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The growth in value per exported ton of finished marble and travertine is +8.1%, and that of finished granite is +7.6% versus the first quarter of 2005, while blocks and ¡®plain¡¯ slabs have decreased in value, as much as by 8 per cent points for marble.
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The leading markets of Italian exports are, as usual, those that have always had strong bonds with the Italian stone industry, such as North America, and right now the USA in particular (imports from Italy to the USA: over 148 thousand tons of marble and granite, chips excluded, worth nearly 170 million euros, with +2% in volume and +9.2% in value), which is the first and foremost destination by value, followed by the European Union (258 thousand tons worth 168 million euros in the most important items) and, by a wide margin, non-EU Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, even if we must bear in mind that percent rises are easier for smaller markets than for larger and more established markets.
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Some good news: exports to the Far East have restarted, largely due to the growth of our exports to China, which at least looks set to be our partner, not just a competitor. The most important item that is exported to China is marble blocks, but some trade of finished products is also beginning to take place (especially polished slabs and finished marble products) with a lively, interesting dynamics, above all in value. The same applies to India, where growth is however slower and more moderate.
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The situation in the Middle East is quite different and also needs to be looked at in the light of the current international events. The Middle East is interested in finished products, especially marble, and there are also a few major markets: the United Arab Emirates, which exceed Saudi Arabia by value and love mostly marble, followed by Qatar and Kuwait.
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Especially in these days, we have to point out the position of Jordan, with appreciably growing imports, even if the figures are generally moderate, and Lebanon, unfortunately overwhelmed by quite different problems, but, until the end of April, Lebanon was the fourth largest partner in the area.
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The European Union is still suffering from the still uncertain situation of Germany, whose imports (187 thousand tons, worth 65 million euros) are slowing down, just like the United Kingdom, by volume and by value. France instead is recovering in value what it is losing in volume. Positive balances are those of the new EU countries, such as Poland and Hungary, but these markets do not make up for the fluctuations of the ¡®great¡¯ historical partners.
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Important is instead the role played by the other European countries, those outside the EU, such as Russia, which is buying more valuable, higher quality products, Croatia and Switzerland, a historical partner that makes up by value what it loses by volume.
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A comment about the North American area is in order: there are some losses in Canada, while the USA keeps being the most important partner. There¡¯s some small loss in marble, but imports are increasing by quantity and absolute value, in finished granite that is directly supplied by Italian companies.
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There¡¯s not much to say about imports: the volumes of imported granite are decreasing (-4%) but values are growing, starting from the biggest supplier, India. India remains the leader in terms of volumes, but in terms of values it is surpassed by Brazil, which is growing, like all of Africa, especially owing to the leading role played by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Still very important are the European suppliers, such as Norway, Finland and Spain, on lower levels but high values per ton.
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Interesting is also the trend of exports in cutting and processing machinery and machine tools, which, still for the first quarter of the year, show a growth, compared with the same period of 2005, with a total export of 146 million 200 thousand euros, equal to +15.5% than last year.
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A review of the relative figures on the different segments clearly shows an asymmetrical growth, with values and volumes moving differently to each other. Processing and polishing machines have a slightly negative balance in volume, but are strongly positive in value, while machine tools are growing in both, while the mean unit value is falling and the values of the cutting machines are definitely decreasing. The most important geographical area for the exports of Italian technology is the European Union, with it¡¯s over 37 million and 700 thousand euros, +3.6% than 2005. It is the finishing machines that sustain the European market, but the rest of Europe is steadily growing too, while Africa and the Far East are slowing down, although they still have a strong demand of machine tools, just like the Middle East. Positive is North America in all items, along with Latin America. For this area too, in which, just like marble, Italy is the leader, we must be cautious, since these statistics refer to a short period of time: some trends are coming up, but a final assessment can only be given at the close of the year.