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Exports sustain European machine tool growth

27 September, 2013

Sales by Europe’s machine tool manufacturers grew by 8% in 2012 to reach a total of €22.6bn, according to figures released by Cecimo, the European Association of Machine Tool Industries. This growth was driven by a 14% surge in exports (which were worth €18.8bn), masking a stagnant domestic market.

According to Cecimo, Europe is still the leading region for machine tool production, and it predicts that its share of global revenues will increase from 32% in 2012 to 34% in 2013. But total production for this year is expected to be similar to last year’s figure.

In 2012, machine tool sales in Europe were worth slightly more than €12bn, and Cecimo expects then to drop slightly this year. According to the organisation’s president, Martin Kapp, the European machine tool industry is “concerned” about these figures.

“Today, we have reached 66% of pre-crisis production and this level is achieved due to excellent export performance,” he says. “Domestic demand in many Cecimo member countries is still drastically low.”

Filip Geerts, Cecimo’s director general, blames the stagnation in European machine tool consumption on “low business confidence, combined with unfavourable lending conditions in the EU.

“In southern European countries, hit by the sovereign debt crisis, lending conditions remain extremely rough, requiring urgent action to ease bank lending,” he adds. “Customer demand is the key driver of innovation in business-to-business industries, and is crucial for maintaining sustainable value chain relations in Europe.”

Cecimo will soon publish a manifesto on skills in which it will warn that skills shortages are a growing threat to the future of the European machine tool industry. “Europe’s education and training systems are not capable of delivering the practical skills that industry needs,” warns Luigi Galdabini, who chairs Cecimo’s technical committee.

Cecimo is calling for co-ordinated action across the EU to place more emphasis on workplace education programmes, to promote apprenticeships and to improve cooperation between universities and industry.

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