EThe Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) traditional PC market (desktops, notebooks, and workstations) continued to stabilize in the first quarter of 2017, with the market posting modest growth (1.6%) and totaling 17.4 million units, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Notebooks performed strongly across EMEA (8.9% YoY), growing 9.2% in Western Europe and 8.3% in CEMA. The push to avoid price increases following component shortages and the inventory build-up in Western Europe, together with favorable exchange rates against the dollar in CEMA, fueled commercial notebooks, which grew 18.6% in CEMA and 11.2% in Western Europe. Consumer notebooks returned to growth in Central and Eastern Europe (8.1%) and Western Europe (7.5%) thanks to some previous quarter backlogs. Overall desktop shipments continued to decline, posting a 12.0% decrease in EMEA.

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The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) found that global economic confidence is at its highest level in years, with strong growth since the start of 2017.

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The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council released a new report on the latest developments in the U.A.E.'s manufacturing sector at a high-profile event in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 28 January. Eng. Jamal Salem Al Dhaheri, CEO of SENAAT, and Badr Al-Olama, the Head of the Aerospace Business Unit at Mubadala Investment Company, provided keynote remarks at this exclusive business roundtable luncheon.

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A robust print and packaging sector in the Middle East will see the market value reach 24 billion USD in 2017, according to Smithers Pira's The Future of Global Printing to 2020 report.

Citing data from the Smithers Pira report, Mike Simmonds, Gulf Print & Pack project director, said: 'The Middle East presents a dynamic market for both the print and package printing segments. Across both of these industries, the latest data forecasts growth well in excess of the mean regional GDP increases of around three percent per annum. Overall market value will pass 28 billion USD by the end of the decade.'

In addition, the report sees a bright future for the industry as the packaging sub-segment will have increased to 70 percent of the print market by 2020.

For the consumption of packaging, the Middle East also presents a tempting market for global firms as it is the print industry’s most buoyant sector for growth. Data from another Smithers Pira report, The Future of Packaging to 2020, forecasts a regional market worth 30.3 billion USD in 2017. This will expand to 36.9 billion USD in 2020, driven by the fastest year-on-year growth rate of any global region.

Industrial and transit packaging, followed by food are, and will remain, the largest end-use segments, although healthcare will be the fastest growing over the next four years.

Among the opportunities being seen by industry stakeholders is the growth of digitization, and Pauline Brooks, marketing development manager at Konica Minolta, commented: 'There is still room in the commercial print market, as digitization is still only a very small part of the overall business. If you class packaging, label and textile printing as one market segment, then you can trust that this will be the next big segment both in terms of development and opportunity.

'We have already seen leading manufacturers looking at investing in the industrial segment. Label, packaging and textile areas are literally untouched. There seems to be a huge scope. However, the success will not be just dependent on products. There needs to be a change in mindset, approach and skills. Industry knowledge is going to be the key.'

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