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Mexico’s evolution to shooting-star status

German machine tool manufacturers world export championship runner-up in 2015 – exports just under the best-ever figure

Frankfurt am Main, 16 March 2016. – Germany’s machine tool exports rose by 4 per cent in 2015. “With an export proportion of almost 70 per cent, the world market is the most important arena for the sector’s commercial success. And there we once again performed very well last year,” comments Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main. At 9.4 billion euros, exports remained just below the historical best achieved in 2012, of 9.56 billion euros. On an international comparison, the increase in German exports is keeping pace with developments worldwide. Only 180 million euros behind Japan, Germany was once again the runner-up in the world export championships.

German manufacturers benefit from investment boom in Mexico
The shooting star among the markets was definitely Mexico, with its vigorously expanding automaking sector. The nation currently ranks 7th among the world’s biggest automobile producers, with an output of more than 3.6 million vehicles in 2015. The component suppliers, in particular, aim to continue their massive investments, as does the aviation industry. Demand for machine tools is concomitantly high. With an enormous rise of 70 per cent, the country has meanwhile positioned itself as the fourth-largest market for German machine tools. “So we’re all the more gratified to see that German machine tool manufacturers will be extensively showcasing their capabilities at a German sectoral exhibition entitled “German High-Tech in Metal Working” in León from 12 to 15 April 2016,” said Wilfried Schäfer.  

The major drivers for German exports last year also came quite generally from North and Central America. The second-biggest market for machine tools, the USA, stands for a tenth of total exports, up by 7 per cent. Overall, however, business was rather subdued. The automotive industry, by contrast, continued to invest in its projects across the board.

Boost from Europe
Supportive effects for Germany’s foreign trade also came from Europe. Italy shone, in particular, thanks not least to various initiatives for encouraging capital investment. German exports rose by a third. With a share of just under 5 per cent, Italy is the third-largest export market. France and the UK are oscillating between stagnation and a modest plus. Business with Russia slumped. Exports were down by one quarter. Nonetheless, the country takes 5th place in the rankings. The dramatic fall in order bookings, by three-quarters over the past two years, however, will continue to have a seriously adverse impact on export business.

Asia, by contrast, showed definite signs of a slowdown, triggered by the weakness of China. Nonetheless, with an export proportion of 22 per cent, China remains the leading market by quite a margin. However, with a minus of 9 per cent, the ongoing upheaval in the Chinese economy is unmistakable. With their double-figure growth rates, other Asian countries like South Korea, India and Japan can to some extent compensate for this decline in business with Asia.

For the ongoing year, the VDW is once again anticipating a modest rise in exports. The pacemaker is Europe, most prominently the UK, Spain, France, Austria and Italy. Mexico, too, is still in the fast lane. “For the German manufacturers, the task now is to compensate for the declining figures in Russia and China,” said the VDW’s Wilfried Schäfer in conclusion. Besides Mexico, he sees potential in the ASEAN nations and in Iran.

The German machine tool industry ranks among the five biggest specialist groupings in the mechanical engineering sector. It supplies production technology for metalworking applications in all branches of industry and makes a crucial contribution towards innovation and productivity enhancement in the industrial sector. Due to its absolutely key position for industrial production output, its development is an important indicator for the commercial dynamics of the entire industrial segment. In 2015, with a workforce of around 68,600 (annual average for 2015, firms with more than 50 employees), the sector produced machines and services worth around 15.1 billion euros.

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), Frankfurt am Main

Graphics: Exports in the German machine tool industry

For further information: Gerhard Hein, VDW Business and Statistics, Tel. +49 69 756081-43, g.hein@vdw.de

Responsible for the content of this press release: Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken e.V.


Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken e.V.
Corneliusstraße 4
60325 Frankfurt am Main
+49 69 7560810
+49 69 75608111

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