July 1, 2022

Exports almost reach pre−crisis level again

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VDMA e. V.

Despite many disruptions in the supply chains, machinery and plant manufacturers from Germany were able to significantly increase their exports last year. Exports in the fourth quarter only increased by a nominal 4,6 percent or 2,0 billion euros to 45,2 billion euros, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on the basis of preliminary figures. For the full year 2021, however, machinery exporters from Germany recorded a plus of 9,8 percent or 15,9 billion euros to 179,4 billion euros. For comparison: In 2020 as a whole, an export decline of 10,1 percent was recorded compared to 2019. This means that machinery exports are still about 1 percent below pre-crisis levels. “Unprecedented pressure on supply chains ultimately ensured that machinery exports fell just short of their 2019 level, despite brisk orders from abroad. However, initial signs of easing in the supply chains and the continuing high level of incoming orders indicate that 2022 could become a record year,” says VDMA economic expert Olaf Wortmann. 

Export market USA slightly extends lead over China

The USA is the most important export market for machine deliveries from Germany. Last year, the lead over China was even further extended. Exports to the United States increased by 13,9 percent to 20,7 billion euros. Exports to China increased by 6,3 percent to 19,3 billion euros. This means that 11,5 percent of all machinery deliveries from Germany went to the USA, while China’s share decreased to 10,7percent. “The industry in the People’s Republic got off to a strong start in 2021, but lost some of its growth momentum in the course of the year. This is ultimately also reflected in machinery exports to China, which already declined in the fourth quarter. In addition, sales in the Chinese mechanical engineering sector only increased slightly recently. But all in all, last year’s business in China can be considered a record year for many mechanical engineering companies,” says Wortmann.

Italy and the United Kingdom with strong growth

Machinery exports from Germany to the EU-27 increased by 10,8 percent last year. The export business with the three most important customers from the EU-27, France (plus 10 percent to 12,1 billion euros), Italy (plus 22,6 percent to 8,7 billion euros) and the Netherlands (plus 11,5 percent to 7,8 billion euros) also grew in double figures. The export business with the United Kingdom (UK) also developed particularly dynamically. Exports increased by 22,8 per cent to 7,8 billion euros. “The high growth in machinery exports to the UK is probably due not only to the rapid economic recovery but also to the special depreciation option introduced there. The so-called ‘Super Deduction’, which runs until March 2023, is intended to promote productivity-enhancing capital investments. Ultimately, the mechanical and plant engineering sector will also benefit from this,” Wortmann explains. “British corporate investments in information and communication technology as well as machinery and equipment have already returned to pre-crisis levels.“  

Machine deliveries to Turkey decline from second half-year onwards

Companies from Germany delivered 3,8 percent more machinery and equipment to Russia, now totalling 5,5 billion euros. This puts Russia in 9th place among the most important customer countries. Turkey recorded an increase of 8,9 per cent to 3,9 billion euros. The decline in export business with Turkey in the second half of 2021 can also be attributed to the increasingly sharp fall in the value of the Turkish lira between August and December. As a result of the drop in value, mechanical engineering products from Germany traded in euros have become drastically more expensive for Turkish importers,” adds Wortmann.

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