CARRARA, Italy – Dimensional-stone exports from Italy grew slightly in volume
and higher in value during the first quarter of 2006, according to a report from
Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM).

The report, derived from data from Italy’s central statistics office (ISTAT), shows exports of 1.44 million tons of natural stone with a value of €560 million ($718 million). Compared to the first three months of 2005, that’s a one-percent increase in volume but a nine-percent hike in value.
“It is clear that the positive trend of a large part of domestic exports, especially all things Made in
Italy
, is benefiting marble as well,” says Giancarlo Tonini, IMM president, “with an increase in the mean value of exported products, which in our industry means finished marble and granite. A result that is also due to the efforts made by our companies, which keep aiming at producing top-quality products.”
The growth in value-per-exported-ton of finished Italian marble and travertine in first quarter 2006  is 8.1 percent, and finished granite exports grew by 7.6 percent. Blocks and “plain” slabs decreased in value – as much as eight percent for marble.
The leading markets for Italian exports are those with long-time strong bonds with the Italian stone industry, such as
North America. The United States
imported more than 148,000 tons of marble and granite worth approximately €170 million ($218 million), representing a two-percent increase in volume and nine-percent hike in value.
For
North America in general, Italian imports lagged somewhat in Canada. And, in the United States
, marble suffered a small loss, but imports are increasing by quantity and absolute value with finished granite supplied directly by Italian companies.
Other strong markets for Italian stone in first quarter 2006, in order of volume, include the European Union, non-EU
Europe, the Middle East and the Far East
.
Italy is also exporting marble blocks to China, but some trade of finished products is also beginning to take place, especially in polished slabs and finished marble products. The same applies to India
, where growth is, however, slower and modest.
With stone that’s sent to
Italy, the volumes of imported granite are decreasing (down four percent in first quarter 2006)  but values are growing. India remains the leader in terms of volumes, but in terms of values it’s surpassed by Brazil
.