The positive signals for Tuscan economy all come from abroad. Despite a comprehensively weak economic juncture, in the first semester of 2013 the orders to industry, export, and international tourism, as well as the transit of foreign travelers in airports are all shown a slight recovery in the regional territory. It is reported in the most recent Banca d’Italia report on Tuscan economy, according to which “the available indexes indicate an easing of the negative dynamic from the second quarter,” and “the forecasts for upcoming months are more favorable”.
As pertains to the industrial sector, according to the Unioncamere-Confindustria data reported in the economic juncture report, while domestic orders for manufacturing companies with more than 10 employees dropped by 6%, foreign demand increased by 1.1%, continuing the trend that started in the second half of 2012: four consecutive quarters of increases registered by regional companies outside the national boundaries. Overall, industry remains weak both from the production and investment perspectives, but entrepreneurs expect a “stationary” or “improving” scenario, and approximately 40% estimate an increase in number of orders.
Foreign trade is a little more obscure: the statistics indicate a 1.9% contraction compared to the first semester of 2012, but the trend is penalized by the strong drop in base and precious metal sales. Excluding that sector, export grew by 5%, compared to the national average of +0.1%. In the fashion sector, the increase was of 3.5%, and was largely carried by the leather, accessories and footwear sectors; while the textile and garment sectors gained +0.6%. The mechanical sector was the principal benefactor, with the +16% achieved in the machinery and mechanical apparatus. It also went well for the foodstuffs and tobacco sectors (+10%), and the +18% for the chemical-pharmaceutical sector.
The third positive indicator comes from tourism and airports. In a scenario where Tuscan tourism has been in flection (-3% for presences in the first semester), foreign travelers directed towards regional destinations increased by 0.6% and is also improving at a better rate than the national average in terms of tourists’ comprehensive expenditures (+8.5%). In a bleak first semester for Tuscan transportation – penalized in maritime connections by the steelworks industry crisis and in cruise ship traffic by the competition by La Spezia – the airport traffic moved at two speeds: -9% for national traffic and +1.5% for foreign travelers. Generally, however, the services sector seems to be headed for the conclusion of the negative phase and the predictions of sector entrepreneurs seem to confirm it: “the percentage of those expecting an increase in sales by year’s end and the first months of 2014 (41%) is clearly higher than that of those who expect a decrease (12%)”.