Production and export of woodworking machinery in Italy was almost halved last year, according to figures by trade association ACIMALL.

The industry produced 48.3% less machinery and tools than in 2008 and exports fell by 48.7%.

Acimall said the figures were a significant blow to the export-oriented business of its member companies. A 40.6% decrease in imports was also recorded, setting the balance of trade at 50/50.

The association warned it expected 57% of companies would ask to dip into the industry’s redundancy funds this year.

A spokesman said that while production forecasts for 2010 were difficult to make, figures for the end of the year seemed to indicate a slight recovery.

He said: “A growth by some percentage is expected – between 5% and 10% – as compared to 2009, especially thanks to the long-awaited recovery of some foreign markets.”