Italy's imports and exports of plastics and rubber processing machinery continued to show positive trends in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the same period of 2011, with a 17% rise in overseas sales, said Assocomaplast, the Italian trade association for manufacturers of plastics and rubber machinery, equipment and moulds. According to data from ISTAT (the Italian institute for statistics), this rise masks a “moderate slowdown” in extrusion plants and injection moulding machines, whilst exports of moulds and blow-moulding machines showed a positive outlook. The sector also saw a 22% rise in imports, driven by increased purchasing of mould and extruders, according to a 3 July statement from the Italian association. Looking at the top destinations for Italy's exports, Assocomaplast said Germany showed "considerable growth" (19%) to almost €90m, made up of two thirds moulds. Conversely, sales to China dipped by 19% and the country slipped to third position, with some €34m, said Assocomaplast. Sales to France, in second place, rose by 37%, to the US by 34%, Poland by 30%, Brazil 28% and Turkey 17%.