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Mechanical Engineering Exports in Germany overcome low Point

Export figures for the mechanical engineering industry in Germany are further improving. The lowest point in machinery exports has been overcome. However, patience and efforts are still needed in business and politics before the pre-crisis level is reached.


Machinery exports from Germany are increasingly stabilizing. In September, German machinery and plant manufacturers recorded only a 7.6 percent drop in export business compared with the previous year. In the period from July to September, exports fell by 12.4 percent to 39.8 billion Euro. In the second quarter, machinery exports from Germany fell short of the previous year's figure by 22 percent. The export result was particularly weak in April and May (down 27 percent and 28 percent respectively) due to the far-reaching measures taken in many places to combat the corona pandemic. For the first nine months of the year, exports were down 13.2 percent. "Machinery exports from Germany have overcome the corona low point. However, a great deal of patience and effort is still required in business and politics before the pre-crisis level is reached," says VDMA Chief Economist Dr. Ralph Wiechers.

Export growth in Russia, South Korea, and Turkey

Machinery exports from Germany to the EU-27 in the third quarter decreased 15 percent year-on-year. Cumulatively, exports to the EU-27 partner countries fell by 16 percent between January and September of this year. The most important export markets within the European Union is France, which recorded a decline of 17.3 percent in the first nine months. Poland comes second, overtaking the Netherlands (minus 12.1 percent) and Italy (minus 19.9 percent) in the ranking due to a minus rate of only 9.2 percent in the same period.

Among the top 20 sales countries, Russia (plus 1.1 percent), South Korea (plus 3.1 percent) and Turkey (plus 3.6 percent) stand out, all of which have recorded growth in the year to date. Machinery exports from Germany to Taiwan rose by 10 percent. "In Russia and Turkey, this year's positive result is primarily due to a base effect," explains Wiechers.

"The result of our economic survey clearly shows that the upswing in China has reached the subsidiaries of the members across the board."

"In South Korea, but also in Taiwan, the value-added share in the global electronics supply chain is a key aspect of a resilient economy, in addition to early pandemic control. Both countries produce key components for "home office technologies" that are later installed in other Asian countries - primarily China. Ultimately, the export business of German machinery and plant manufacturers with South Korea and Taiwan also benefits from this".

The two most important single markets, the USA and China, absorbed 11 percent and 7.2 percent less machines "Made in Germany" in the first three quarters, respectively. "The results of our economic survey among VDMA members in the People's Republic clearly show that the upswing in China has reached the subsidiaries across the board," says Wiechers. In September, machinery exports from Germany to China were 5.6 percent up on year-on-year.

Heterogeneous export development between mechanical engineering sectors

The individual mechanical engineering sectors also show a clearly heterogeneous export development. In the period from January to September, German machine tool exports were 31.1 percent below the previous year's level, even though they had already recorded a 7 percent drop last year. On the other hand, the corona crisis was not able to stop demand for agricultural machinery: German manufacturers were able to almost maintain the level of the same period last year from January to September (down 0.2 percent).

Source: VDMA

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