Italian footwear goes towards stabilityAll the positive indicators together with the growth of the Italian economy open good expectations for the Italian footwear
Growing production, exports and domestic consumption: the economic picture of the Italian footwear sector improved in the first half of 2017 and, although not a strong recovery, nonetheless there are many encouraging signs that could evolve in positive trends in the short-mid term.
Against an estimated production growth of 2.9% in value, both domestic consumption and exports are strengthened. On the domestic market, following the heavy falls of recent years, we finally see weak positive signs in purchases (+0.4% in volume and + 0.9% in expenditure), although Italian families are still keeping a close eye on price.
Exports are more rewarding, with 93.8 million pairs exported in the first five months of the year (1.3 million more than the same period last year) for a value of 3.77 billion Euros (+3.5%): the highest value recorded in the past 15 years, even net of inflation. This positive sign characterises both exports to the EU (+1.7% in value) and those outside the EU (+5.3%). Recovery in Russia and CIS in particular continues, although it is still only partial: demand in the USA improves; the fall in the Middle East seems to have halted but Far East markets have cooled off.
On the contrary, from January to May imports diminished (-5.3% in quantity), with heavy falls in the three main suppliers, China, Romania and Vietnam.
The upshot of these trends is a positive trade balance of 1.74 billion Euros in the first five months of 2017, with a prospective growth of +8.2%: a significant figure which confirms the important contribution to the Italian trade balance, whose credit in the same period is 14.56 billion Euros.
What are the expectations of the sector for 2017 in light of these trends? There are many unknown economic and political factors that can affect the performance of the sector, especially on overseas markets: from the strong Euro to the uncertainties linked to the new American presidency; the instability provoked by the escalation in Korea; terrorist threats that affect tourism; the regulations of trade relations with the United Kingdom following Brexit; up to the sanctions imposed on Russia, extended in June for a further six months.
However, there are also many opportunities, especially those opened up by the bilateral economic negotiations of the EU with Canada, with the abolition of duties from 21 September, and with Japan with which a decisive step has been taken to reach an agreement that opens an economic partnership and hence the decrease of quotas and gradual reduction of duties. There is also optimism regarding the reopening of negotiations with Mercosur, of which Brazil is part.
Hence, the game is still on.