Foreign trade data for plastics and rubber machinery, equipment and moulds, in the first half of 2016 (source: ISTAT) compared to those for the same period in 2015, show imports at nearly 390 million euros, with a new peak (+9.7%).
This would seem to reaffirm the signs of recovery in the domestic market that had shown up on the radar last year.
The trend in exports this year, on the other hand, was much less impressive: the bottom of the trough was seen precisely last June at -2.3%, following months of foreign sales dropping by -0.5% to -1.0%.
Regarding the key geographical macro-areas for sales abroad – which are again the strong point for the sector – particular increases are seen in sales to the NAFTA countries.
Specifically, there is a strong increase in exports to Mexico.
Asia is also a bright spot, thanks to increased sales in the Far East – China, India, South Korea and Vietnam – and, as regards the Middle East, to the much awaited recovery of sales in Iran.
The ISTAT data are confirmed also by the recent ASSOCOMAPLAST sentiment survey of a sample of processors, who report recovery in domestic and slowdown in foreign demand, and among its members, who show a trend toward stability in orders, especially from foreign markets, a situation that is expected to continue to the end of the current year.  
In parallel, we observe that competing German manufacturers closed out the first half of 2016 with substantial stability in imports and exports, recording positive variations on the order of tenths of percent.
In effect, for years various Italian and German manufacturers have been recording a slowdown in orders in the months leading up to K, the principal world event for the sector, taking place in Düsseldorf from the 19th to the 26th of October 2016. Interested buyers probably prefer to get an idea of the new technologies exhibited at the fair before planning and committing to their investments.
It is worth noting that the Italian presence at the three-year German fair will be second only to that of the hosts, with some 400 exhibitors, over half of them manufacturers of machinery, equipment and moulds, many of whom are members of ASSOCOMAPLAST.
The Association is going to organize many promotional activities during the show in Duesseldorf.