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Positive economic indicators despite the ongoing global pandemic

Date

02 Dec 2021

Sections

Sustainable Dev.

Brussels, 2 December 2021 – During its online General Assembly, CECIMO shows a more optimistic outlook for 2021, with expected production growth of 11.5% and a positive scenario for the European Machine Tool sector in 2022. On the policy side, General Assembly debated on key topics of interest for the sector such as digital technologies, sustainability, machinery directive, and additive manufacturing.

Economic outlook and trends

It is unusual to see positive economic indicators in the context of supply chain disruptions caused by a still ongoing global pandemic. However, an upward trajectory is forecasted for the MT industry in 2022. Recent data indicates that CECIMO's MT output is expected to grow at an annual rate of about 11.5%, reaching 22.5 billion euros in 2021. With a share of about 33%, CECIMO countries will maintain the number 1 position in the global MT market.

Other notable forecasts include:

- Total MT exports and MT imports to increase by 12% and 13% retrospectively on a year-over-year basis. Germany, Italy and Switzerland remain the major CECIMO exporters and the two major MT export destinations outside Europe are China and the United States. Japan, China and the Taiwan region remain the major MT supplying markets for CECIMO countries (outside Europe).

- While MT consumption levels in the Americas and Asia are expected to reach the average 2019 level this year, according to the latest forecasts from Oxford Economics, European recovery is pushed back to 2022. Following a 10.5% growth in 2021, a higher growth in MT consumption in the CECIMO countries is expected in 2022 (+15.2%). The highest growth rates in 2022 are expected in the “Aerospace” and “Motor vehicle and parts” sectors.

Despite the overall optimism caused by economic forecasts, ongoing global issues and their potential impact cannot be ignored. For instance, the uncertainty of new COVID-19 variants, rising infection rates and new containment measures in European countries may slow down the growth path. Furthermore, supply chain bottlenecks are visible in all MT purchasing sectors, with the automotive industry being the most affected. The chips crisis is the main culprit in this context.

Supply chain challenges are expected to last until mid-2022, after which we expect demand from our major purchasing industries to be more stable. This could obviously disrupt regular business activities and affect overall demand. However, as the President of CECIMO, Dr. Hans-Martin Schneeberger highlighted: “The outlook for MT demand is still expected to remain positive and therefore we expect a growth path towards a 2019 production levels.”

Chairman of the Economic Committee, Mr Marcus Burton highlighted another significant long-term challenge for our sector - the transition from conventional to electric vehicles. In that respect he stressed the point: "There is no doubt that electric vehicles are the future and are increasingly endorsed by government policies...", but he also pointed out: "While being aware that the transition will certainly affect the profile of MT requirements from the automotive sector we expect overall demand for MT to remain strong, and we are confident that our producers have the flexibility to adapt and meet the changing requirements.”

Concerning the additive manufacturing sector, CECIMO launches the AM survey at European level every six months. Based on the Fall survey results, the AM growth path is expected to continue in the following period thanks to the growth scenario for both domestic and foreign markets. While AM orders growth is expected in all major buying sectors, the Medical sector posted a positive net balance of 82%, retaining the highest trend indication score at sectoral level.

Policy debate

In the framework of the General Assembly, on 1 December 2021, CECIMO organised a webinar to discuss the EU Industrial Strategy and Manufacturing. Prominent policymakers engaged in a lively debate about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation in manufacturing and the role of R&I in supporting the twin transition in the manufacturing sector.

During the panel discussion, industrialists shared their views on the digital transformation highlighting the needs of the sector when implementing digital solutions. In that respect, CECIMO members addressed that collaboration and data sharing are the first steps in spreading the technology across the industrial landscape.

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