Italian textiles in the first months of 2017

The first months of 2017 were relatively buoyant for Italian textiles in general (including wool, cotton, linen, silk and knits), as textiles manufacturing and export data show.

According to ISTAT data regarding industrial manufacturing (adjusted based on seasonal effects), Italian textiles grew by +2.0% in the January-March 2017 period.

As to woven fabrics, wool fabrics play the lion’s share, making for over 40% of total sales. Cotton fabrics represent 20%, knits 18%, silk fabrics weigh in at over 17% and, lastly, linen has a share of nearly 4%.

Exports in the January-March 2017 period showed a change of pace, up +3.5%, while imports dropped by -1.2%. However, average figures conceal very different performances across segments.

Specifically, exports of wool fabrics were buoyant, up +3.1%, while cotton fabrics finally inverted the trend, showing a +6.8 increase. Exports of knits marked a +4.8% growth. Conversely, linen and silk fabrics dropped by -9.7% and -6.9%, respectively.

As for imports, cotton and linen showed an uptrend: cotton fabrics from overseas countries grew by +1.7%, while linen fabrics grew by +18.4%. Conversely, decreased imports were recorded for wool fabrics (-6.4%), pure silk (-7.7%) and knits (-3.3%).

Based on the aforementioned results, the trade balance of Italian textiles in the January-March 2017 period amounts to nearly euro 397 million.

As to the main markets, the US recorded a +6.2% increase. The Chinese market is particularly lively: sales of Made-in-Italy textiles were up +22.1%; the aggregate data of exports to China and Hong Kong (up +10.8% in the period) exceeds euro 78 million, almost equal to that of Germany. Proceeding with the analysis of the main markets, Tunisia is up +3.3%, Spain by +13.8%, while Portugal only +3.9%. A negative trend was instead recorded for Germany (-2.8%), Romania (-5.8%), France (-5.0%) and Turkey (-4.9%).

In 2016, Italian textiles recorded a downtrend versus 2015 (-0.9% on a year-on-year basis), bringing total turnover to euro 7.84 billion.

Statistics regarding textiles exports on a year-on-year basis showed a -1.0% reduction with, foreign sales at slightly less than euro 4.3 billion. Concurrently, imports slowed down to euro 2 billion, down -2.1%.

Based on such performance, the sector’s trade balance confirmed the figures recorded in 2015, i.e. euro 2,294 million. The surplus of Italian textiles makes for 25.7% of the overall Made-in-Italy textiles trade balance, which recorded total sales of approximately euro 8.9 billion.

Antonio Gala

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