Our first impressions of the exhibition - in the heat of the moment one could say - on the last day of Vitrum 2013, were encouraging. It had been a difficult year, but most importantly a year showing very different international scenarios from the ones we had been seeing over the past five years. The slowdown of the BRICs, which had become a traditional market for the western world, had been offset by a weak reawakening of Europe that was still too fragmented economically speaking, but nonetheless the leading customer for the Italian glass industry.
The first months of 2014 have confirmed this trend, and in the months to follow this could be further confirmed directly on the field. On 14-17 April, the world’s first major event for our industry in Shanghai will tell us if the efforts being made by the Chinese government to maintain a 7.5% growth rate and to spur domestic market expansion will be sufficient to support the necessary investments in quality machinery. With similar growth rates, China Glass has long been the preferred destination for Gimav and Italian member companies, with a huge participation once again this year. The same also goes for Glass South America in May and for Mir Stekla in June, even if the difficulties are far greater in this case. Brazil in particular is weathering a strong devaluation of its currency which will possibly lead to a slowdown in imports, whereas Russia will continue to deal with excellent investment potential but lack of credit. Then, it will be the turn of Glastec, held in Düsseldorf in October, to feel the pulse of Europe.
Objectively speaking, the overall situation is not an easy one, and requires a great deal of tenacity and entrepreneurial farsightedness to be well-managed. We’ll see how things go: after our return from the three exhibitions we may have a clearer picture of this year which is forcing us to play on a chessboard where Europe is struggling to regain lost momentum and on the other, the BRIC countries are coming to terms with new models of development.