ACIMALL is the Italian woodworking machinery and tools manufacturers’ association. It was established in Milan in 1966 and represents approximately 160 companies which account for almost the entire revenues and export of the industry. They’ve just released their 2018 annual report and we summarise it here.

Representing a significant number of industry companies, Acimall is a qualified reference for all national and international institutions that the woodworking machinery industry deals with. The 150 Acimall member companies have design and manufacturing skills able to respond to diverse user requirements in every branch of woodworking, from sawmills and joinery, to the industrial processing of solid wood and wood-based panels, up to surface finishing. Some of the companies are Biesse; CMS; Cefla; Centauro; Cosmec; Costa; Freud; Italpresse; Masterwood; Omec; Paolino Bacci; Pade; SCM; Steton; Uniteam and Volpato.

ACIMALL reports the global economy has continued to expand in 2018, although growth in the third quarter was disappointing in some regions. External factors weighed on the business of big countries. However, these situations fitted into a wider framework of weakening financial markets, uncertainty in trade policies and concerns for China’s economic outlook. Except in the United States, industrial production has slowed down, especially for capital goods. The expansion of global trade has also slowed down well below the 2017 average.

On the financial side, the stock markets closed the year with cautious optimism about profit perspectives, due to the recent trade wars and expectations for slower global growth. Concerns for the figures presented by the US government further weighed on the climate of the financial sector at the end of the year. Even the biggest central banks seem to be adopting a more cautious approach. While raising the target range for Federal Fund rates to 2.25-2.50 percent in December, the Federal Reserve anticipated a more gradual increase of rates in 2019 and 2020.

In 2018, Italy exported machinery for 1,620 million euro, up by 8,2% compared to 2017. It’s a significant performance that once again confirmed how the year just ended was overall positive, and it will inevitably have an impact on 2019 results, also due to the current trends. The economy develops in cycles and the results must be interpreted correctly. 2018 was the best year in the past decade and the current period of uncertainty cannot change opinions based on hard figures.

In the Far East, Italian companies exported machinery for almost 190 million euro, up by 6%. The biggest market is China with over 75 million, slightly decreasing compared to 2017. The growth rate of Chinese economy in 2018 was 6.6%, the lowest since the years of the global financial crisis. Vietnam is a market recording significant growth rates and expanding strongly, especially in the wood industry. Italian manufacturers exported technology for 20 million euro, twice the value achieved in 2017. Figures indicate that the Vietnamese wood industry is very lively. Oceania is a destination worth 37.2 million euro, decreasing by almost 5 percent. The export value is mainly driven by Australia’s performance with 32 million euro of imported equipment from ACIMALL suppliers.