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EU machine-tool sector graphic.

EU Machine Tool Builders See Trouble Ahead

Dec. 9, 2022
The umbrella group for Europe’s machine-tool manufacturers issued a positive but cautious year-end summary, marking progress but expressing concern about competitiveness in the coming business cycle.

The European machine-tool building sector will post a second consecutive year of positive growth for 2022, following the collapse of demand in 2020, with a roughly 10.0% increase in revenue (almost €25 billion, or $26.4 billion) over 2021. The annual summary and outlook is provided by CECIMO, the European Association for the Machine Tool Industries and Related Manufacturing Technologies, which issued a positive, but cautious, economic summary and outlook for its member businesses.

CECIMO represents machine builders’ associations from 15 countries, which comprise approximately 1,500 business in Europe (EU, plus EFTA and Turkey), who are credited with 98% of the total machine tool production in Europe and about 33% worldwide. Over 75% of CECIMO production is shipped abroad, and half of it is exported outside Europe.

The group cited an Oxford Economics forecast for machine-tool consumption in CECIMO markets to increase 17.0% year-over-year for 2022. This rate will slow to about 6.6% in 2023. For comparison, global machine-tool consumption is expected to grow by 7.0% in 2022, reflecting a longer recovery period in Europe for major machine-tool buying sectors, as well as high order backlogs continuing in Europe during 2022.

Noting a rebound in foreign orders, CECIMO projects European machine-tool exports will grow at about 10% growth for 2022, while European machine-tool imports will grow by about 14.5% for 2022.

The total trade balance should be a surplus of around €7.8 billion ($8.24 billion) for the current year.

The outlook for the machine-tool sector is less positive, with central banks enforcing higher interest rates to reduce inflation, as well as an acute energy shortage in Europe and the ongoing disruption brought by war between Russia and Ukraine.

New-order volumes reached a record high during the first quarter of 2022 for the CECIMO8 group of machine-tool building member countries – Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. – though declines followed in Q2 and Q3.  Looking ahead, CECIMO expects a decline in new orders in the first half of 2023, but more stability in the second half of next year.

“While we may see a drop in new orders, a certain level of positivity should be kept regarding machine tool production and consumption in Europe,” according to the group’s statement.

Being largely global businesses, CECIMO member companies expect their regional governments to support their efforts to remain competitive. “Policymakers need to ensure a favorable business environment in Europe to ensure investment growth and keep businesses in Europe,” according to CECIMO president Dr.-Ing. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop. The group called on the EU and individual national governments to accelerate efforts to define appropriate, long-term solutions that will stabilize the energy market.

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