VERONA, Italy – Stone use continued to expand in 2001, even with a softening world economy, according to two studies released here during the Marmomacc stone exhibition in October.
   The Association of Italian Stone Machinery Manufacturers and Related Sectors (ACIMM) estimates worldwide stone production at 130 million tons last year, an 8.7-percent increase from 2000. The value of that production also grew, but at a slower rate; the estimated $35 billion in 2001 marked only a 5.9-percent raise from the previous year.
   The ACIMM’s top five in production aren’t surprising, save one; China, Italy, Spain and India are perennial leaders, but Portugal managed to place fifth. Those countries, according to the ACIMM, account for 52 percent of the world’s quarrying production.
   Italy’s own stone industry, showed overall growth, with the 10.5 million tons of stone quarried in 2001 marking a 7.7-percent increase from the previous year, according to figures from the Italian Marble Association and Related Sectors (Assomarmi).
   The official press release from Marmomacc on Assomarmi’s study notes the 4.7 million tons of exports from Italy last year shows a 4.7-percent decline from 2000. However, the complete study shows that internal consumption of Italian stone in 2001 totaled 7.5 million tons, an 8.6-percent increase from the previous year.
   The 4.7-million-ton export figure also included 1 million tons in chips and powders, as well as 75,000 tons of pumice stone. Taking those figures out to focus on dimensional stone, Italy exported 3.5 million tons in 2001 – and 92.7 of the total consisted of marble and granite.
   The Assomarmi study cites the September 11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing war in Afghanistan as detrimental to the market. The slowdown in sales also might explain the overproduction of stone in 2001; the studies notes that Italy held 900,000 tons in stock, or almost double the amount from the end of 2000.
   The Assomarmi study also noted that, in 2001 marble exports, the Carrara region fared a bit better than Verona producers. While last year’s total Italian-marble exports declined 3.2 percent from 2000, Carrara’s marble exports dropped only 2.9 percent … while Verona’s slid downward by 5.3 percent.

 ©2002 Western Business Media Inc.

Only three countries – besides one-shot wonders like Caribbean islands with a single-wire saw – managed to get a lift in U.S. dimensional-stone export figures for the first month of this year. China is one; anybody guessing the other two is peeking down the column.

Read more: StatWatch:January 2009

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   When it comes to U.S. stone importing, 2003 looks like the Year of Granite.

Read more: Import Trends 2003: Movin' On Up

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   At the halfway point this year, U.S. stone imports show that the market is staying the same – and yet it’s also showing signs of change.

Read more: Import Trends: Mid-Year 2004

By Jacob Bunin
National Import Specialist                                        
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

   Knowledge of the principles that guide U.S. Customs’ classification of monumental and building stone is crucial to anyone who imports this merchandise into the United States -- including traditional importing firms, as well as any fabricator, who brings stone into the country and acts as the importer of record.

Read more: U.S. Customs Classification of Building Stone