Assomac’s AGM held in Vigevano on June 30 was a sombre affair, reflecting the current crisis in the national industry. The meeting gave members an opportunity to discuss the crisis and their problems.

Assomac President Giovanni Gaia described the bleak panorama of the sector. In 2004, exports of footwear machinery fell by 10.8%, despite an increase of 9% in exports to Asia.

According to the association, sales of machinery for the production of leathergoods are surviving as the sector had already been severely rationalised. In 2004, sales to Europe were down 16.8%. Asia is expected to become the main destination for leathergoods machinery in 2005 although sales to the Americas increased by 38%, now accounting for 16.9% of Italian exports.

However, the tannery machinery sector has seen exports increase by 6.7%. The first semester of 2004 was particularly strong, but was followed by a decline which has continued into 2005. However, sales to China have increased over the year. 43.8% of all tannery machinery exports in 2005 were destined for Asia.

The economic and structural crises facing the machinery sector are aggravated by the crisis across the industry in general. According to Gaia, the reasons for the crisis include global trade rules, competition from China, and the strong euro.

In order to confront the situation, Assomac together with Federmacchine have created a Wise Equity fund for machinery designed to gain development grants. This has led to the ‘technological innovation in products and processes project’ financed by the region of Lombardy, and the European Union.

Gaia stated that other problems are of a more international nature and can only be solved on an international scale and concluded that the three fundamental objectives for surviving the crisis are safeguarding western footwear manufacturing, continued technical innovation, and co-operation between companies.