A bright future in china for italian machinery manufacturing

Date: 14 April 2011

The Chinese market is readying itself again shortly to be among the top destinations for Italian manufacturers in the glass industry -- both as a point of reference for sales, and as a hub for new production centers.

Convincing evidence of that comes from the Fenzi Group and Bottero, two of the more than 22 companies participating with Gimav at China Glass 2011. 

 The stages in the inexorable growth of Chinese national capitalism are becoming one of the most pronounced features of the last unbelievable decade, during which it appears much more is happening than it would have seemed legitimate to imagine. Now that China has become the leading manufacturer in the world, surpassing the United States by a hair's breadth during 2010, the year 2011 will bring another twist in the transformation of the Asian giant, dictated by its new economic policy decisions. One of the government's primary objectives is to build and strengthen a true domestic market. Already we've witnessed a considerable increase in imports during the first part of this year (+19.4% over the same period in the previous year, compared to a 2% increase in exports) accompanied by government efforts to limit inflation, which reached 4.9% in the month of February. All are clear signs that attest to China's intense dynamism, but also the need to orchestrate the dynamics of salaries in a more proportionate manner, because their growth is crucial to the strengthening of the domestic market, and consumer prices.

In this context, the spotlight that Italy's machinery manufacturing industry has for many years focused on the Chinese market is bound to find new and even more exciting reasons to shine. This is a sector where Italy occupies a privileged position. Indeed, it is one of the strengths of the country's entire economic system and continues to be considered a key element in Made in Italy success around the world. This is especially true for the glass processing machinery industry, a niche of additional, special prestige for Italian manufacturers; during the terrible two-year period of 2008/2009 Italy's exports toward China increased by 4.25%, and the forecast for 2010 is for another 4% rise, according to Renata Gaffo, Director of Gimav. 


To date, the Chinese market has been considered strategic by Italian manufacturers because it is a key gateway for exports around the world. To supply Chinese companies with glass processing products and machinery means a global expansion of Chinese products made with the benefit of Italian technology. Added to all this is the push, heavily backed by the government, for growth of the domestic market. This means the creation of new factories, designed to manufacture consumer goods of increasing quality for a domestic market that will soon become more demanding and that will also lead to exporting innovative products that are in keeping with the standards of international competition. “It is the new economies that are more successful at bringing about innovation – explains Dino Fenzi, Honorary President of Gimav – because it is easier to build from the ground up than to renovate existing facilities. Compared to the new factories and plants that are sprouting up all over the place in China ours, and those in the West in general, can almost be called industrial archeology.” Italian industrial machinery, thanks to the extremely high level of technology, is able to guarantee quality production and is therefore in the ideal position to meet the needs of a market composed of consumers who, little by little, are becoming more and more selective. Dino Fenzi confirms this concept: “Up until a few years ago, Chinese consumers were xenophiles, whenever they could afford them, they preferred foreign products from the West because they were considered better. Nowadays they are beginning to prefer products made in China, as long as the quality is good. They’ve become more demanding, and their spending ability increases every year, but they also appear to be much more proud. Their expectations have grown, but they are beginning to want to buy Chinese.”

The fast pace at which changes occur in the Chinese economy forces foreign and Italian companies to make extraordinary efforts of analysis and adaptation to capitalize on the enormous opportunities that reveal themselves every day. “It might seem odd, but it is more important to monitor a single half-year period than to get stuck on medium-term logics – asserts Fausto Lanfranco, CEO of Bottero, a Cuneo-based firm with a manufacturing, sales and service facility in Shanghai - We increased our turnover in China by more than 150% from 2009 to 2010, and we can say that for now, the Made in Italy products that we also represent successfully, are riding high, on the strength of the growing demand for quality. But the competition is getting stiffer and the level of technology required is skyrocketing. The threat is considerable in the medium-long term, because Chinese investments in training and research are remarkable. Even today, for example, the technical schools that educate Chinese youth are better than ours, and European schools in general”. 

The next glass processing machinery industry date in China is China Glass, the annual international trade fair set to take place in Shanghai from May 11th to 14th, and will include a group stand for Italian member firms in a space occupying more than 2,000 sq m. As usual, Italy’s presence will be managed in collaboration with ICE, by Gimav, which has done its best in more than thirty years to interpret its role as a business association, and deserves the credit for inventing the Made in Italy brand in the glass market and its promotion on a global scale.

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