BERGISCH GLADBACH, GERMANY — German plastics and rubber machinery makers have reported a slowdown in orders in the first four months of the year. This has led VDMA, the trade body representing German machine groups, to revise its forecast to a 1 percent decline in total sales by German companies in 2013.
Sales in 2012 reached a record 6.5 billion euros, and VDMA's previous forecast had been for 3 percent growth in 2013.
VDMA Chairman Ulrich Reifenhäuser presented the new 2013 forecast at the association's annual conference in Bergisch Gladbach, in June. Reifenhäuser said: "The level of incoming orders in April makes us hope the trough has been reached in the second quarter of 2013."
January-April incoming orders dropped 13 percent compared with the same period in 2012. Orders from within Germany fell by 18 percent and international orders by 12 percent — although within the latter, EU country orders rose by 8 percent.
However, VDMA is still positive about growth prospects and is forecasting 6 percent growth in German machinery sales in 2014 to reach a 6.9 billion euro record level.
Despite the decline in January-April, VDMA expects sales to customers abroad to show a positive result for both 2013 and 2014.
VDMA managing director Thorsten Kühmann pointed to "exports to emerging markets, especially in Asia, picking up and demand from Central and Eastern Europe rising."
There was a high level of investment activity in Germany in 2012, but domestic orders have meanwhile recently declined.
Reifenhäuser was optimistic about the German market. Private consumption is still growing, low interest rates support building construction and the K 2013 trade show, set for Oct. 16-23 in Düsseldorf, Germany, is expected to inspire new momentum among plastics processors for investment in 2014.
There should be "growth in exports in all world regions in 2014, also in Western Europe", Reifenhäuser predicted.