Interview With Dr. Paolo Banfi, PRESIDENT of Acimit
Italy, with revenues of roughly 2.7 billion Euros, is one of world’s major producers of textile machinery. Exports represent around 78% of Italian production.
At a global level, Italy holds an 11% share of total worldwide exports in the sector.In preparing this interview, Kohan Journal spoke with ACIMIT President Dr. Paolo Banfi to get his perspective on the state of the Italian textile machinery.
Kohan Journal: Considering Italy’s current economic situation and the global economic crisis, what forecasts can you make regarding Italy’s textile machinery industry, and can Italy maintain its 11% share in this industry?
We are confident in the future. In spite of the current negative outlook for many economies, according to ACIMIT’s statistics, in 2007 our sector managed to register growth in both production and exports. Abroad, our sales suffered from the strong European currency during 2007, and this problem will persist over 2008. However, the overall positive performance of our exports on some of the world’s major textile machinery markets (primarily China) confirms that the validity of our proposals and the high level of Italian technology are appreciated in the world’s foremost textile manufacturing areas. Even Italian textile industry has resumed investments, as witnessed by the increase in imports over the past year.
Kohan Journal: How distressing was the cancellation of ITMA 2011 in Italy?
Obviously, Italian textile machinery manufacturers were hoping for ITMA to take place in Milan, but this was not the case. The next ITMA will be held in Spain. ACIMIT, for its part, supported the position of Italy’s textile machinery industry at CEMATEX (European Textile Machinery Manufacturers Association), but this was evidently not enough. We do not wish to go back on the European manufacturer’s association’s decision, but there’s no question that the Spanish textile sector, despite its enormous progress, cannot be compared to Italy’s, neither in terms of production volumes nor investments in machinery.
Kohan Journal: Considering Italy’s $881 million in sales to Asia, how do you evaluate your future market in this continent and in the Middle East specifically?
There’s no doubt that Asia will represent Italy’s primary export market also for the future. Asia’s share of Italian exports in the sector grew from 29% in 2000 to 43% in 2007. In addition to the area’s large markets, such as China and India, our manufacturers are also looking with a great deal of interest towards countries in the Middle East with a long standing textile tradition, whose geographical position makes them a preferred destination for Italian exports. Countries such as Syria, Egypt and Iran are markets which have always appreciated Italian textile technology.
Kohan Journal: What are ACIMIT’s programs for an active participation in the Asian ITMA and ITMA 2011?
For ITMA Asia + CITME, ACIMIT and ICE (Italian Institute for Foreign Trade) have partnered their efforts towards creating promotional initiatives in support of Italy’s participation in the trade fair event. An advertising campaign is currently under way on several specialised trade magazines in major markets throughout the Far East. Advertisements on billboards touting Italy’s presence at ITMA Asia + CITME will also be present at the trade fair’s exhibition halls. Finally, a press conference will be held by ACIIMIT on July 28, the second day of the fair. As for ITMA 2011, it’s still too early to talk about promotional activities for this event.
Kohan Journal: Please explain ACIMIT’s education and training programs in the Middle East.
As mentioned previously, Italy’s textile machinery industry and ACIMIT are looking attentively towards the near Middle East and its numerous textile manufacturers. In 2007, in partnership with ICE, we issued a version in Arabic of ACIMIT’s CD-ROM containing a directory of all Italian textile machinery manufacturers, a glossary of textile machines and related Made in Italy accessories, as well as a translation in Arabic of the five publications related to the most up-to-date Italian technologies in the spinning, weaving, knitting, finishing and chemical fibre sectors. This CD- ROM has been distributed throughout major textile training institutes in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Beyond this initiative, aimed primarily at students, for 2008 ACIMIT has planned three technology symposiums in the area; specifically in Egypt, Iran and Syria, with dates yet to be defined.