As the ceramic tile industry gears up for its biggest trade show, Cersaie, there are troubling economic signs that point to a challenging time ahead. Interest rates are on the rise, spurred by a series of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. Consequently, the new housing market in the United States, which had enjoyed an unprecedented period of record growth, has now become stagnant. Oil prices hover near record highs, sustained by fears about the continuing turmoil in the Middle East. What does all this mean for the tile industry? Increased competition among manufacturers will likely result, as tile producers around the world fight for market share in what may turn out to be a period of relatively small growth. In recent years, there has been considerable change in U.S. market share among foreign manufacturers, which still account for the majority of the tile sold in the United States. Last year, Brazil surpassed Spain as the third-largest supplier to the United States, with China, Argentina and Turkey all showing strong growth in the U.S. market.

Speaking of Turkey, in this issue of TILE Magazine, there is a special section devoted to Turkish tile, including an overview of the Turkish tile industry, profiles of the major Turkish ceramic tile manufacturers, news from the Turkish ceramic tile industry, and an eye-catching showcase of the latest ceramic tile designs from Turkey. Many in the U.S. ceramic industry might not be aware that Turkey is the fifth largest ceramic tile producer in the world, and the third largest in all of Europe, or that Turkish tile imports to the United States, in terms of square meters, have increased seven fold in the past decade. With its huge supply of raw materials and vast ceramic production capacity, Turkey is positioned well to continue its growth in the U.S. market.

In the November issue ofTILE, we will examine the latest trends in ceramic tile consumption, as well as other economic factors affecting the industry, in our annual Tile Industry Market Overview and Forecast. In addition, we will also feature predictions about the future direction of the ceramic tile industry from some of its leading figures in a new feature, CEO Insights. If the data from previous years are any indication of what's in store for the future, it's a safe bet that the ceramic tile industry will continue to grow, no matter what challenges the ever-changing world economy may bring.