Exports from North Rhine-Westphalian engineering are suffering

by Hans Diederichs

Machine exports from North Rhine-Westphalia declined in the first half of 2020

Compared to the previous year’s figures, exports were down 8.6 per cent in the first quarter and 23.1 per cent in the corona-affected second quarter. Exports fell by 16 percent from January to June 2020 to 13.1 billion euros (2019: 15.3 billion euros).
Mechanical engineering is the most export-intensive sector in North Rhine-Westphalia and around 70 percent of the machinery and equipment produced here is exported. In addition to the pandemic, the industry has especially suffered from international political upheavals and turbulence.
"There are some signs that confidence in the markets is returning to our industry. Then, investments will follow", explains Bernd Supe-Dienes, chairman of the VDMA NRW Board.

The most important export markets

The most important sales market of the North Rhine-Westphalian mechanical engineering industry in the first half of the year was the Chinese market. Exports decreased by 2.1 percent to 1.66 billion euros compared to the same period last year. During this period, exports to the United States decreased by 12.6 percent to 1.5 billion euros.
In third to fifth place were France with 0.72 billion euros (-19.3 percent), the Netherlands with 0.57 billion euros (-14.9 percent) and Poland with 0.51 billion euros (-14.3 percent). As expected, exports to these European countries that were severely hit by the corona virus, turned out to be particularly poor in this period: Italy 0.44 billion euros (-26.6 percent), Spain 0.3 billion euros (-29.6 percent) and the United Kingdom 0.48 billion euros (-27.5 percent).
Overall, machinery exports from North Rhine-Westphalia to the EU-27 countries in the first half of the year were 5.3 billion euros, which is18.9 percent below the previous year's level.

Countering protectionism

Among the future challenges that companies face are the unequal competitive conditions in the world market and the increasing protectionism of some countries.
"Travel restrictions and new foreign trade barriers are bad for exports. Germany and Europe must stand up for free world trade," adds Supe-Dienes.

Looking ahead

With regard to the coming months, the current development seems to have reached a low point, because business climate as well as business and export expectations are slightly rising again according to the latest ifo figures.

Source and photo: VDMA NRW

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