Germany’s strong exporting machinery and plant manufacturers have held up well in a difficult global environment. According to preliminary results from the German Federal Statistical Office, machinery exports recorded nominal growth of 6.1 percent year-on-year for 2022.
The industry’s export value thus reached a record €192.4 billion, an increase of €11.1 billion. Adjusted for prices, companies recorded a real decline of 1.3 percent last year.
“Admittedly, price effects do make the annual balance sheet look good. But in real terms, too, the result is respectable. The sharp decline feared by many did not occur in 2022,” says VDMA chief economist Dr. Ralph Wiechers.
On an annual basis, the fourth quarter in particular showed a strong increase of 9.3 percent in nominal terms.
“In addition to numerous indicators such as lower freight rates, the latest export data prove that disruptions in global supply chains have continued to dissipate,” Wiechers analyzes. “In addition, export expectations among machinery and plant manufacturers have recently risen – a good omen for the start of 2023, which is still a new year.”
Export market USA increases significantly
The USA continues to be the most important export market for machinery deliveries from Germany. Last year, the lead over China was even further extended. Exports to the United States increased by a nominal 20 percent to 24.8 billion euros. By contrast, exports to China fell by a nominal 2.3 percent to 18.9 billion euros. This means that 12.9 percent of all machinery deliveries from Germany went to the United States, while China’s share of 9.8 percent is now below 10 percent for the first time since 2016.
“The industry in China lost significant growth momentum from the second quarter of 2022. As a result, not only did German machinery exports to China miss the 2021 result. Sales of the Chinese machinery industry itself also remained below the prior-year level.
By contrast, the US economy was very robust. This is leading to continued strong demand for machinery and equipment from Germany. With technological competitiveness already excellent, the weak euro strengthened price competitiveness in this growth market,” comments Wiechers.
Strong growth in Europe
Machinery exports from Germany to the EU-27 increased last year by a nominal 5.0 percent to 84.4 billion euros. The EU partner countries thus account for a total of 43.9 percent of German exports. Machinery exports to the three most important customer countries in the EU-27 – France (up 5.2 percent to 12.9 billion euros), Italy (up 9.0 percent to 9.6 billion euros) and the Netherlands (up 6.1 percent to 8.5 billion euros) – were above the EU average.
In European countries outside the European Union, German exporters recorded particularly strong growth in Turkey (up 20.8 percent to 4.8 billion euros), the United Kingdom (up 9.7 percent to 8.3 billion euros) and Switzerland (up 11.8 percent to 6.1 billion euros).
Machinery exports to Russia almost halved
Machinery exports to Russia fell sharply last year by 49.4 percent to 2.8 billion euros. For December 2022 alone, the books show a drop of more than 65 percent. German machinery exports to Russia now account for just 1.4 percent of total German machinery exports, which corresponds to 19th place in the export rankings. Before the Ukraine war, Russia was still within the top 10 customer countries.
India, on the other hand, recorded a significant increase in share. With a nominal increase in exports of 28.2 percent to 3.9 billion euros, India now ranks 14th among the countries buying machinery and equipment from Germany.