The steel emergency is causing serious concern among Italian ceramic machinery manufacturers, according to Acimac, the Italian ceramic plant and machinery manufacturers' association. With a more than 30% average increase in the price of ferrous products (steel prices have rocketed by 55% in the space of three months), increased delivery times and a decline in quality, the repercussions for the manufacturing machinery industry are inevitable due to the extensive use of these raw materials in its production process. "Informed observers are well aware that the problem is of a global scale and that it has largely been caused by the behavior of China," said Franco Stefani, chairman of Acimac. "Given the presence of a rapidly expanding industry and soaring demand, this country can afford to pay higher prices to obtain raw materials in the international marketplace and then hoard them." The Italian machinery industry now risks losing competitiveness not only due to the price of steel but also because of procurement difficulties, or in the worst case scenario, supplies running out entirely. Given the situation, the ceramic machinery suppliers appear likely to be forced to raise their prices.