Il rapporto 2016 (Foto MarmoNews)
These numbers prove that the most important role in the globalization context is always ofvolume, more than of value: counting both the raw and processed shares, we reach a flowof over 790 million meters. It must be clarified that the rate of raw has further decreased,going below the psychological threshold of 50% and highlighting the upswing of a strategicchange that favored transportation, deriving from a greater handling of the processedproduct.Among the most significant characteristics of the natural stone industry trade, that havestabilized in time, we must mention another important fact: the overall majority of the worldusage refers to materials that were extracted and often processed in countries that are notthe ones where they are installed, feeding satellite activities of great economic importance,first of all in the service industry.The first six producers (in this order: China, India, Turkey, Brazil, Iran, Italy) account for the71% of global quarrying, exceeding of over 30 points the 1996 quota and confirming theirposition of the year before. The historical trend towards a progressive concentration,usually involving the processing phases and distribution, turns out to be more and moreconsolidated. In particular, China, with around 46 million tons extracted, has confirmed itsrecord, with a third of all marble and stone produced in the world, whilst India hasexperienced a faster growth, with its 16%. Prices, in light of the mentioned managing options, however diversified, have beencharacterized by a reconsideration, in some cases significant, of the preceding strategies.For example, China itself, where the average quotation of the end product hadexperienced a constant upswing from 2003 onwards, until 2009 when it had suffered asomehow relevant decrease, has lost around 10 points in the quotation of the export of itsprocessed products, going from 41,70 dollars per square meter in 2015 to 37,30 in 2016.This fact, which is not unconnected to currency exchange, confirms that the distributionstrategies have become flexible also in leader countries, having to face, in a very selectiveglobal market, changeable balances of supply and demand, and a significant differencewith mature economies, and, in particular, that of Western Europe. A special attention goesto Italy, that maintains the record of quotation of natural stone artifact shipped abroad ofaround 67,60 dollars per square meter, against the 36,70 of the first twelve exportingcountries, considered on the whole. Regarding product, in 2016 silica experienced a further marginal upswing, mostly thanks toIndia and China, it being understood that calcareous products have prevailed in volume, with a quota share on the global consumption that remains around three fifths of the total. The predominant usage continues being in building, with significant quota shares in street furniture and funerary business, in a setting of usages that is mostly stable.On the subject of China, being it a leader country able to determine some strategic choicesalso for other countries, it must be specified that its export has decreased by over a milliontons, after the 600 thousand that it lost the year before, with a regression of 9.1% thatbecomes 13.5% in the two-year report; nevertheless, the decrease of end products hasremained stable, while the raw silica has strongly gone down. Processed products with ahigh added value represent 78% of the Chinese amounts shipped abroad, with a growth of6 points, and 93% of the value, with a decrease of 5. Sales of manufactured products toJapan have further decreased, not to mention the setback of United States, while SouthKorea and Vietnam have confirmed their first and fourth positions in the rankings. Theinternational turnover of Chinese shipments, for its part, has decreased of 10.4%, reaching2
6,8 billion dollars: sometimes even giants cry, although confirming their belonging to thehighest dimension.In the sphere of the leading natural stone industry countries, Italy’s final balance, standingout for the highest average price of manufactured products, that we mentioned, has beenconsiderably decreasing, with a negligible drop in production and a new one in volumesexport – excluding by-products – of 7,3%, caused by raw and processed products to thesame extent. The negative differential, compared to the maximum reached in 2000, hasfurther grown, reaching almost 22 points, the majority of which in the last three years.Import, on its side, has reported a decrease of 8.5%, contextualized in a permanentstandstill of the internal market, influenced by a chronic stagnation in the building industry:it is not a coincidence that, in the last ten years, the Italian natural stone industry importhas gone down 8 times, and is less than a half of what it was in 2001.Export from Italy, in 2016, has been related to artifacts for the 81,7% of its total value, withan impact that represents the high of the decade, almost confirming, beyond its socio-economic relevance, its prominent strategic relevance. Shipments of raw instead have hada traditional strength in marble, with around 9/10 of its quota share and marginal amountsfor granites and other stones.A key role of the industry continues being that of satellite activities and, in particular, ofprocessing technologies (machinery and auxiliary goods). Regarding plants, 2016 endedwith a stationary global production – same as materials – estimated at around 3 millionquintals, two thirds of which went to the foreign trade, and confirmed the Italian record, onthe strengths of an export that amounts to 69,3% of the European quota in volumes, and62,3% of correspondent value, while it represents around ¼ of the global trade,representing the absolute majority of the demand in many countries of the old continent,not to mention some extra-European countries that are very strong in the industry, withvery significant peaks in Brazil, Australia and Ethiopia, where the absolute majority of themarket coverage pertains to Italy. On top of this, there are many other importantprogresses like the “made in Italy” natural stone technology quota in Canada, Mexico andChile.The Italian export of machinery and of marble and stone processing systems hasgenerated shipments for 600 thousand quintals, decreasing by around 16 points comparedto the previous year, nevertheless, we must admit that in 2015 it had reached a newhistoric high. The 2016 turnover was of around 700 million euro, with an average unit valuereaching, in turn, a new high of 1184 euro/quintal, against 1112 of the year before, 1058 of2013 and 974 of 2012. This to confirm a consolidated competitivity, regarding mainlyquality and service policies levels, although in the context of a global competition inconstant growth.The final balance of Italian technology is completed by auxiliary goods, where abrasiveand diamond tools stand out, the value export of which account for 370 thousand quintalsdelivered, and a turnover of over 285 million dollars, that in the European environment areexceeded only by Germany. Nonetheless, in both leading Union countries, there aresignificant decreases compared to the correspondent highs, that are mostly due to “joint-venture” operations taken out in other countries by the manufacturers.The international handling has been characterized, as in the past, by a wide and logicemploy of the navy. But the prominent role of the railway transportation has beenconfirmed, both on the short and long distance (for example, in the Chinese supply of rawsilica coming from Northern Europe, however in decrease although benefitting from the3
new High Speed segments) while the number of road transportation, complementary to thefirst two except for local markets processing and usage cases, has grown proportionally toproduction, with an estimate of over 50 million of loadings and unloadings.The analysis by country demonstrates that the development of the natural stone industry isgoverned by processes that are very variable: although the largest growths in quarryingand processing have been reached in Asia, even Europe, that is a mature area, has givensigns of reacting, proving that marble and stone are always able to overcome the effects ofan economic conjuncture that cannot be considered simple.Negative final balances of the foreign turnover, especially related to raw, and incountertrend compared to a long growth trend, have been yet again recorded in Brazil, inspite of a significant promotion of the local stones, and in particular of granite; not tomention Turkey that continues suffering from the decrease in purchase of raw limestonesby China, while the export of artifacts towards the traditional United States market has notregistered a growth compliant with the demand potential, having it coincided with anunexpected decrease of the North American import of processed products, being of 6,1%,and breaking the positive trend of the last 6 years.It must be at least mentioned that the trend reversal registered in the United States raisesuncertainties that become of more relevance at the announcement the protectionism infavor of local production, as per the new Washington government programs.Although contained, Iran records a growth in export, the only significant country to haveincreased the shipments of raw to China, where it has reached the fourth position in theranking of purchases, behind Turkey, Italy and Egypt: a country, this last one, that isstrengthening the value added policies, like it is happening, although to a lesser extent, inJordan and especially in Palestine, where the effect of the natural stone industry on thegross national product is since a long time at the world top. An interesting growth in product has also been recorded in South Africa, althoughhappening at the same time as a good upswing in raw, that in any case is still far from thehigh of its export. On this subject, it is important to highlight how the distributivedevelopment of the South African artifacts has been able to conjugate the color features ofthe domestic granite and those of an international demand in favor of strong colors, withthe traditional strategy to value quality and extracted volumes, the destinations of whichcontinue regarding Europe and Italy in particular, but also have good positions in Poland,where the funerary use of the dark pigmented product takes advantage of consolidatedtraditions. The world marble and stone production forecasts, although advisably applying prudentcriteria resulting from the extrapolation of historical series and the yet contradictory shortterm foreign trade trend, but also from a granted demographic growth followed by a growthin building, continue being favorable, so much that in 2020 the volume of high qualitynatural stone extracted in the world should reach 170 million tons with a use close to twobillion equivalent square meters, while the international trade volume should beproportional to this, therefore of over one billion meters. A valid supposition is that the global natural stone trend, once overcome the bottle neckcaused by the stagnation situations currently present in the system, can restart at a levelconsistent with the long term; although bigger issues will arise related to the creation ofinfrastructures, the compliance of the plants and the disposing of waste, on all levels bothnational and regional. These problems must be faced taking into account the crucial role of4
investments, and therefore of credit, and the need to boost them on the company levelthrough adequate incentives: this, in light of the producing, communication and promotionmoments, taking special care of the waste topic, the storage and environmental challengesof which are a bottleneck of first importance. The international cooperation is certainly capable of providing a new propulsion, startingfrom the possible solutions to these strategic problems, with an impact that becomes moreand more tangible in as much as it is supported by the joined action of the businessorganizations of the natural stone industry, that on a supranational level yet doesn’t complywith objective political requirements, the needs of the companies and of employment, andhistorical auspices.The industry holds very high professional content and the possibility to create new jobswith limited financial means, so much that since nearly half a century it has beenconsidered suitable, also by the United Nations, to start expansion processes where otherindustries could not express the same strategic and tactical capabilities. Therefore, it hasthe right to be subject of attention both in countries where it represents an importantopportunity to increase the added value, and in the mature ones, where it results inconsortiums of great economic importance, the more important in light of a complexeconomic and occupational conjuncture.