At 9.4 billion euros, exports remained just below the historical best achieved in 2012, of 9.56 billion euros. On an international comparison, the increase in German exports is keeping pace with developments worldwide. Only 180 million euros behind Japan, Germany was once again the runner-up in the world export championships.
German manufacturers benefit from investment boom in Mexico
The shooting star among the markets was definitely Mexico, with its vigorously expanding automaking sector. The nation currently ranks 7th among the world’s biggest automobile producers, with an output of more than 3.6 million vehicles in 2015. The component suppliers, in particular, aim to continue their massive investments, as does the aviation industry. Demand for machine tools is concomitantly high. With an enormous rise of 70 per cent, the country has meanwhile positioned itself as the fourth-largest market for German machine tools. "So we’re all the more gratified to see that German machine tool manufacturers will be extensively showcasing their capabilities at a German sectoral exhibition entitled "German High-Tech in Metal Working" in León from 12 to 15 April 2016," said Wilfried Schäfer.
The major drivers for German exports last year also came quite generally from North and Central America. The second-biggest market for machine tools, the USA, stands for a tenth of total exports, up by 7 per cent. Overall, however, business was rather subdued. The automotive industry, by contrast, continued to invest in its projects across the board.
Boost from Europe
Supportive effects for Germany’s foreign trade also came from Europe. Italy shone, in particular, thanks not least to various initiatives for encouraging capital investment. German exports rose by a third. With a share of just under 5 per cent, Italy is the third-largest export market. France and the UK are oscillating between stagnation and a modest plus. Business with Russia slumped. Exports were down by one quarter. Nonetheless, the country takes 5th place in the rankings. The dramatic fall in order bookings, by three-quarters over the past two years, however, will continue to have a seriously adverse impact on export business.
Asia, by contrast, showed definite signs of a slowdown, triggered by the weakness of China. Nonetheless, with an export proportion of 22 per cent, China remains the leading market by quite a margin. However, with a minus of 9 per cent, the ongoing upheaval in the Chinese economy is unmistakable. With their double-figure growth rates, other Asian countries like South Korea, India and Japan can to some extent compensate for this decline in business with Asia.
For the ongoing year, the VDW is once again anticipating a modest rise in exports. The pacemaker is Europe, most prominently the UK, Spain, France, Austria and Italy. Mexico, too, is still in the fast lane. "For the German manufacturers, the task now is to compensate for the declining figures in Russia and China," said the VDW’s Wilfried Schäfer in conclusion. Besides Mexico, he sees potential in the ASEAN nations and in Iran.