"Don't wait for opportunities: go and look for them; develop your skills, improve them and, above all, believe in your abilities". This was the main message left by Bob Williamson, President of ISTMA to the toolmakers of the American continent in particular, but also to all those around the world who were engage in this session. He spoke at the webinar 'Americas: Statistics & Trends' which, organised by ISTMA, took place on 9 December, with a 'virtual' attendance composed by more than 80 attendees, from different regions of the world. During the webinar, José Camacho, invited speaker, presented economic data from four countries of the American continent that were also members of the discussion panel: United States (NTMA), Brazil (ABINFER), Canada (CTMA) and Mexico (AMMMT).

In his speech, José Camacho emphasized the role of Covid-19 in the breakdown of the economies of the region, considering that this disease is still a concern. He stressed that each country has different dynamics in relation to the pandemic, which puts them at different economic paces. The Covid vaccine still has, in his view, many uncertainties and he estimates that by 2021 the whole American continent (and the world) will still go through a long period of struggle against the pandemic and it is not yet possible to predict when the economy will return to the pre-Covid era values. He also stressed that it is not yet possible to predict whether consumption will change significantly in the future.

Referring to the four American countries, he revealed that statistics put Canada and the United States as the quickest economically recovering countries, while Brazil and Mexico will experience a slower recovery.

He also presented data on the car industry, stating that forecasts indicate that decision-making on the new mobility may be extended over time, between 2022 and 2024. This delay could, however, be reversed if, for example, more certainties and more confidence emerge regarding the (positive) evolution of the pandemic.

At the time of the debate and noting the reduction in activity felt by manufacturers as a result of the pandemic, Roger Atkins (USA) argued that companies must "start positioning themselves now for the recovery of the economy" that he believes will happen in the near future. Employee training and capacity building are, in his view, key elements to the period after pandemics.

Rob Cattle (Canada) pointed out that in his country, many companies in the sector had managed to grow by moving into other areas, changing the focus they had placed on the automotive industry. For this reason, he considered that "diversification is the way forward" to recover activity. And, in this sense, he urged manufacturers to equip themselves with the appropriate technologies.

For Christian Dihlmann (Brazil), there is an enormous need in his country to invest in training in order to improve the qualifications of professionals, especially those who, he stressed, "are in charge of business. Many manufacturers "are not well prepared for the problematic situation that has arisen in recent months", he referred. In his view, improving standards is the possibility of having a bright future.

Eduardo Medrano (Mexico), who chaired the debate, said that industry in his country was going through a difficult period, mainly due to the delay in launching new models in the automobile and aeronautical sectors. But when this situation changes and the market pick up again, he warned, manufacturers "have to be prepared and, for that, they have to start already with it". Well-trained professionals and technologies that ensure greater efficiency are, in his view, the main topics.

Before the end of the debate, Joaquim Menezes, president of ISTMA Europe also took the floor to share some of his concerns about the sector. "Many manufacturers will not be able to resist this period, they will die, but good companies will survive," he said.