And, with production forecast to grow by 5% in 2007, it said the outlook was positive, although competition from low-cost manufacturers like China, remained a key challenge.

“It’s a tough test, that’s for sure,” said Grazia Finocchiaro, ACIMALL vice-president. “This market requires particular attention and care in terms of investments in human resources and business policy.”

However, Italian manufacturers have been successful in other countries, most notably India and the United Arab Emirates, where sales of Italian machines grew by 152%.

Spain, France, Germany and the US remain the most important destinations for Italian machinery. Acimall predicts that the biggest contribution to the success of Italian manufacturers will come from the increased demand from developing markets like eastern Europe, Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East.