Italy’s manufacturing technology producers made it through 2012 with an overall positive result, but the trade association that represents them registered concern that the manufacturing sector recovery that followed the 2009 global financial crisis has lost its momentum. UCIMU-Sistemi per Produrre, representing Italy’s machine tool, robot and automation system manufacturing industry, released preliminary output data showing its members’ orders totaled €4.93 billion (est. $6.55 billion), an increase of 3.5% over the 2011 total.

The results demonstrated the importance of exports to the Italian machine manufacturers, who have seen domestic orders decline considerably as the European debt crisis depressed Italian (and regional) demand. UCIMU members increased their export volumes by 12% over 2011, totaling €3.65 billion ($4.85 billion) in the preliminary data.

The decline of the Italian domestic market became critical during 2012, with sharp declines in domestic activity during the second quarter and third quarter.

“The positive results of Italian manufacturers are due to a good performance in the foreign markets,” explained UCIMU president Luigi Galdabini. “Exports, both to emerging and traditional markets, have in fact enabled the companies to close the year at the same levels of 2011.”

The leading export markets for Italian machine tool builders are (in order of volume) China, the U.S., Germany, Russia, and France. Exports increased to China (+9.5% to €299 million), the U.S. (+42.5% to €264 million), Russia (+31.3% to €131 million), and France (+9.9% to €128.7 million); but shipments to Germany declined 1.4% during 2012, even though it remained the third-largest export market at €259 million.

Other significant export markets for Italian machine tool builders are Turkey, India, Poland, and Mexico.