Simac Tanning Tech 2019 ended against the prevailing trend of the current international economic context. The large visitor turnout matched the record levels of February 2018, before the signs of the slowdown that characterised the second half of last year started to appear. And all had very clear ideas on the machinery and technology they wanted to see.

Indeed, the high standard of the operators who came to Milan is demonstrated by figures showing a surge in online accreditation procedures, with more than 5500 applications from all over the world, much more than those completed at the exhibition. This proves that the visits to SIMAC TANNING TECH were not improvised but planned well in advance.

“The exhibitors’ efforts to present well-performing, safe and eco-friendly systems and technology and to respond to all production demands were rewarded," says Simac Tanning Tech president Gabriella Marchioni Bocca. "This is an approach that Italian industry, which represents approximately 50% of global exports in the sector, has launched and intends to pursue with firm commitment. It is no coincidence that Assomac, the Association representing manufacturers of technology for the footwear, leather-goods and tanning industries, has developed the “Supplier of Sustainable Technologies” project, of which the Green Label is its most tangible feature; it is voluntary and offers third-party certification of the CFP (carbon footprint) impact of machinery manufactured by a company.”

There was also great satisfaction on the part of the 160 operators in the foreign delegations invited to visit the event as a result of a partnership with the Italian Trade Agency. On Friday 22nd, its President Carlo Ferro visited the exhibition. The operators – from Bosnia Herzegovina, China, Egypt, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Iran, Morocco, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam – were all impressed by the high standard of the machinery and technology exhibited on the stands.

“In our country," said a footwear entrepreneur in the Chinese delegation significantly, "we have realised that the way to remain competitive, partly in response to rising costs in general, is to adopt ever better performing production systems. And we can only find the most innovative solutions here in Milan, at SIMAC TANNING TECH.”

The positive comments by operators from Uzbekistan where large investments are being made in the tanning and footwear sector, partly thanks to public funding, were also very interesting.

Vietnam is the world’s second-largest footwear exporter after China and the Vietnamese delegation included two officials from the Ministry of Industry, come to Italy to “study the opportunities offered by the new Industry 4.0 technology.” It is also about to introduce ad hoc measures to facilitate the importation of innovative technology.

Now, we must await the follow-up results. Will the great interest shown at the exhibition in Milan translate into actual contracts in the near future?

Much will depend on the international economic situation:  the financial, currency and geopolitical “tumult”; the “trade war” between Beijing and Washington, which fortunately seems to be dying down; and the durability of key countries such as India and Indonesia where general elections are being held this year.