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VDMA says China most important overall market


The German plastics and rubber machinery industry has posted a record year with a 5 percent year-on-year growth in sales in 2017, and looks set for another strong performance this year.

According to the German plastics and rubber machinery association, VDMA, the increase was above the 4 percent level estimated for the year, and marked the eighth year of continued growth for the industry.

"Since the economic crisis... this has been the eighth year of growth in a row. The current boom has been lasting unusually long," said Ulrich Reifenhäuser VDMA chairman.

At 5.34 billion euros, German machinery exports rose 7.7 percent compared to 2016, according to VDMA figures.

The US led the export market with a 10.1 percent growth at nearly 850 million euros in sales, followed by China which registered a 14.3 percent year-on-year growth, with 717 million euros worth of German-made equipment being shipped to China.

China, said the VDMA, was overall the "the most important total market," because German manufacturers produced another 500 million euros worth of machinery in their factories in China, mainly for the local market.

Italy moved from sixth to fourth place, with 250 million euros worth of machinery delivered to the country, marking a 32.1 percent jump in sales.

Particularly, said VDMA, the Italian government's focus on Industry 4.0 was reflected in purchases.

A reversal in the negative trend in Russia was also witnessed in 2017, with the country posting a 34.1 percent increase in machinery orders from Germany.

However, the high growth rate, according to VDMA was more the result of "the stimulation of" the local packaging sector, rather reflecting any nationwide recovery of the market.

In total, 114 million euros worth of German plastics and rubber machinery were exported to Russia.

VDMA also noted that in Brazil, "the longest and strongest recession has come to an end".

Yet despite a 35.4 percent growth to 75 million euros, VDMA said the Brazilian market needed more time to fully recover.

"Investments, for example, only are picking up slowly, which is mainly due to the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty in the market ahead of this year's presidential election," it noted.

For 2018, VDMA is predicting 3 percent growth for the German rubber and plastics machinery sector with full order books for the year.

"This should, however, not hide the fact that the climate is starting to change," warned Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of VDMA plastics and rubber machinery.

"We are currently in a very long boom phase which is already exceeding its usual length. Due to this, the delivery times of the machinery manufacturers as well as those of the suppliers are unusually long," he noted.

Additionally, Kühmann warned of the "massive problems" companies are currently facing to find qualified skilled workers.


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