Machine tool builders fear economic downturn

Machine tool builders fear economic downturn

Worries about recession and the uncertain economic situation in germany are also increasingly affecting the important machine tool manufacturing industry. The head of the association of german machine tool manufacturers (vdw), wilfried schafer, said he was still cautiously optimistic about the months ahead.

For customers in the core mechanical engineering sector, however, the situation is becoming more difficult: "mechanical engineering in germany has forecast a drop in production for this year, and companies are currently reluctant to invest.", schafer told the german press agency.

The trade show to be held on monday (16.9.) metalworking fair emo starting in hanover should provide impetus for new investment. Incoming orders for machine tool builders fell by a total of 21 percent in the first half of 2019, and 19 percent fewer orders were received from customers in germany, schafer reported. "The domestic market is moving in a similar way to the international market," said the VDW managing director. In manufacturing, a drop of 2 percent is also expected for the year as a whole, in line with the mechanical engineering sector.

According to the federal ministry of economics, the german economy as a whole is "in a weak phase". In the second quarter, gross domestic product fell by 0.1 percent after a plus at the beginning of the year. Even if there is unlikely to be a "full-blown recession," it is clear that "the export-oriented german industry is suffering from the slowdown in world trade and the stagnating global industrial economy."

Schafer also warned: "we can’t just look at the german economy."His industry has an export share of 70 percent. "Some markets are doing well, some not so much. Brexit also plays a role. And the trade conflicts are not beneficial for us, as our most important markets, china and the USA, are at loggerheads with each other."Uncertainty and reluctance to invest would be the result.

Machine tool builders produce basic technologies for many sectors – for the automotive and supplier industry, general mechanical engineering, aviation, medical technology and many others. According to schafer, it is becoming increasingly important not only to focus on more engineers, but also to interest more apprentices in the industry.

"The view of politics is always very strongly focused on academic training. But there is too little talk about vocational skills. The bottleneck at the moment is rather the qualified employees."The mechanical engineering junior staff foundation therefore wants to appeal more strongly to young people at emo. According to the VDW, more than 2200 exhibitors will take part in this year’s trade show.

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