Frankfurt, Germany — German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers expect sales to increase 2 percent in 2016 and another 2 percent in 2017.
That's a slower growth rate than last year, but a more optimistic view that the group took at the end of 2015.
“Back in October 2015 the association's forecast pointed to sales in 2016 remaining broadly unchanged from the very promising level seen in 2015,” said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of VDMA, the association of German plastics and rubber machinery producers, in a news release.
“But business then picked up markedly, prompting the positive forecast for 2016,” he added. Reifenhäuser also is managing director of Troisdorf, Germany-based extrusion equipment specialist Reifenhäuser GmbH & Co. KG.
The United States remains the top overseas market for German machinery, and VDMA cited European and North American sales growth as being partially responsible for the optimistic forecast.
“Business with [European Union] customers continues to develop well, as it did last year, and North America is gaining momentum again,” said VDMA Managing Director Thorsten Kühmann, in the June 24 release.
“India has bottomed out and there are also positive signs in all the countries of Southeast Asia,” he added. “The U.S. tops the sales market rankings, followed by China, Poland and Mexico. Deliveries to Russia were down by a further 15 percent, but this year may mark the low point.”
Frankfurt-based VDMA predicts that sales to customers outside Germany will probably grow 1 percent in 2016 and again in 2017.
Germany remains the world's largest exporter of plastics and rubber machinery, although its lead is shrinking, according to VDMA. Germany now claims a 22.2 percent share of world exports.
“China is catching up and the gap is narrowing: Chinese suppliers now account for 15 percent of world exports,” Reifenhäuser said.
The 2 percent forecast for 2016 and 2017 is lower than the actual 4.7 percent growth that German machinery companies reported in 2015. Exports were up 1.6 percent in 2015, at about 4.7 billion euros.
Germany imported about 1.1 billion euros worth of foreign-made equipment in 2015. The two largest importers into Germany remain Austria and Switzerland, although the United States and China both sold more equipment in Germany than they did in 2014.