Acimall announce Q1 import and export data for Italian goods

The Studies Office of Acimall, the Italian woodworking technologies association, has announced its import and export data in the first quarter of 2024.

Based on Istat data, the Italian national statistical institute, Acimall said that the data illustrates the global trends of Italian technologies for the furniture and woodworking industries in the first three months of this year, providing data and figures to accurately evaluate the real trend of a market that is experiencing a period of uncertainty.

(Image: Acimall)

In the period under scrutiny, export totalled €379.4m, 6.1% less than in the same quarter in 2023. Provided that one quarter is too short a period to identify a significant trend, Acimall said that by looking at the main destination regions (Fig. 1), a 30% decrease in sales to Europe extra EU can be observed, due to the Russia-Ukraine war. The same tragic events have caused a reduction of export to the Middle East, down by 55.1%.

Moreover, the substantial stability of EU, the biggest trade partner with a 52.8% share on total Italian export, is combined with an expansive trend in Italian technology purchases from North America, which is up by 4% especially due to the policy adopted by the US to reshore productions that had been outsourced to neighbour countries.

The markets that still represent attractive destinations, although with significantly smaller values, include South America, plus 28%, Oceania, plus 18%, and Africa, 9.3%.

Acimall also highlighted that it is worth noticing the 16.4% drop of export to Asia, certainly due to the increasing penetration of “made in China” technology for wood and furniture, which is becoming more and more attractive for China’s neighbour markets.

Focusing on specific countries (Fig. 2), a comeback of the US and France, the best customers in the quarter, strongly recovering compared to the entire 2023, when the purchases of Italian technology had dropped by 16% in the US and 4.6% in France.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

There were excellent results in Sweden, plus 137% compared to the same quarter in 2023, driven by spare parts and integrations to existing technology. The UK is continuing to record a collapse of Italian machinery import, down by 36.6%, following a similar reduction in 2023.

China, despite increasing volume of domestic production, is maintaining a strong interest for Italian technology, plus 12.9% in the January-March 2024 period, repeating the plus 10% result achieved across 12 months in 2023. India keeps losing positions in the ranking of customers, minus 30.5%, while remaining in the list of markets that feed good expectations despite the results currently offered to Italian companies.

Looking at the import of foreign technology into the market in the first quarter 2024 (Fig. 3), Acimall saw further evidence of the stagnation that has characterised Italy, although the figures are really limited: Import from Germany decreased by 35.6%, from China by 20.5% and from Switzerland by 12.3%; Austria recorded an 8.7% growth of sales to Italy.

More generally, import in the January-March 2024 period amounted to €39.4m, just above 10% of export and dropping by 23.9% compared to the same period in 2023.

Looking at the figures by region (Fig. 4), the EU remains the most “interesting” origin according to Acimall, with €23.3m in the period under scrutiny despite a 24.6% reduction from the same period in 2023, and a 59.2% share on total Italian import.

Fig. 3
Fig. 4

“The evidence we should probably focus on is the marginal role of Africa for Italian manufacturers,” said Acimall’s director Dario Corbetta. “Despite geographical proximity and the commitment of our government to develop more profitable relations, the penetration of our industry in Africa is still limited, especially if you consider that China, instead, supposedly sold woodworking technology for approximately €100m in 2023.”

He concluded: “North America remains a highly relevant partner for our companies, and the same goes for Europe, although maybe we should consider the latter an expansion of the domestic market rather than an export destination”.