(AGI) Palermo, June 16 - Positive signals are coming fromSicily's exports, which witnessed considerable growth intypical manufacturing sectors last year, and could act as adriving force for the future. Industrial machinery rose by arecord 11.3 percent in 2014 while the agrofood sector climbed3.8 percent, mainly boosted by the performance of farmingdistricts, especially those for cherry tomatoes in Ragusa andSiracusa, fruit and vegetables in Catania and wines inAgrigento, Palermo and Trapani. These districts were created afew years ago in response to the crisis and in 2013 theyexported products worth more than 200 million euros. Thesefigures were revealed by the "Restart" report containingforecasts on Italian exports over 2015-2018, which waspresented by the SACE insurance and financial group whenopening a branch in the Confindustria offices in the Siciliancapital Palermo. Thanks to its strategic geographic location,Sicily's export markets are mainly in North Africa and theMiddle East: Turkey alone represents 10 percent of totalexports, followed - with smaller or larger export shares - byEgypt, Algeria, Tunisia and, despite a slowdown last year, theUnited Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Exports are alsopromising in far-away countries like South Korea and SouthAfrica. SACE forecasts that exports of Italian goods will climb3.9 percent in 2015, twice last year's increase, and follow acontinuous upward curve through 2016-2018, stabilising at 5percent. The positive trend will also benefit Sicilianproduction companies positioned in the export of cutting-edgeMade in Italy products like industrial technologies and theagrofood production chain. "The economic crisis has highlightedthe need to attract wealth from foreign markets in order toinvigorate our own. And the only way achieve our goal is to beton manufacturing, which is the most distressed sector inSicily. To put it in a nutshell: from 2008 to date, theSicilian manufacturing sector fell 26 percent compared to thetwo percent loss recorded in the public sector," said anexpert. . .