Difficulties in China's market pushed exports of German plastics and rubber machinery down 19 percent in 2015, to 653 million euros ($713.4 million).
The German machinery association VDMA released the figures ahead of Chinaplas, which is scheduled for April 25-28 in Shanghai. The data shows that German exports of plastics and rubber machinery fell roughly to the same level in euros as where they were at in 2012, after a huge increase in 2013 and a smaller drop of 5.5 percent in 2014.
“The deliveries to China slowed down because the market has calmed down a bit - keeping in mind the high level the market reached previously,” said Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of VDMA's plastics and rubber machinery committee. “We are not troubled about this as the China market shifts upwards to higher technology.”
He said China remains a “prime” market for German machinery exports, although the U.S. market edged China as the top export destination for Germany's plastics and rubber equipment last year. Exports to the United States grew 13.5 percent in 2015, to 720 million euros ($787.1 million), he said.
VDMA's numbers mirror reports from Chinese plastics equipment manufacturers.
Haitian International Holdings Ltd., China's largest injection molding machine maker, said its domestic sales dropped last year, although more modestly than German figures, falling 4 percent to 4.86 billion Chinese yuan ($748.7 million).
Haitian said some of its domestic peers reported “more than [a] double-digit drop in sales figures in 2015,” and noted that the Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers index has been in contraction since March 2015.
Still, China remains a large market. In 2014, Germany was the largest exporter of plastics equipment to China, accounting for 32.9 percent of all imported machines in China. The second-largest exporter, Japan, in 2014 sent 445 million euros ($540.8 million) of imported equipment to China.
Taiwan and South Korea were the third and fourth largest sources of plastics and rubber machinery imports in China in 2014, respectively, VDMA said. 2015 figure are not yet available.