After going through four consecutive years of landslides, German machine tools' exports to China finally rebounded last year.
In 2017, German machine tools exported 2.17 billion euros to China, a significant increase of 16%, setting a new high for German machine tool exports since 2012. Gerhard Hein, Minister of Economics of the German Machine Tool Manufacturers Association stated: "China is the most important export market for German manufacturers, and Germany is a partner in the expansion and modernization of China's industrial system."
The growth of German machine tools' exports to China has benefited from the recovery of China's economic growth. With the "Made in China 2025" strategy and the arrival of Industry 4.0, "Intelligent Manufacturing" has become a hot term in the Chinese manufacturing industry. New energy vehicles, industrial robots, and lasers have developed rapidly. The demand for machine tools in the manufacturing industry has increased, especially in the field of high-end machine tools.
This is also reflected in the type of German machine tool exports to China. Metal cutting machine tools such as machining centers, grinding machines, gear cutting machine tools, and lathes have become the main force, and their exports have increased compared to 2016. Bending machines and coiling machines have the fastest growth rate, which is a 77% increase compared to 2016. The transformation of China's industrial system has not yet been completed. High-tech machinery is indispensable to the continuous development of China's industrial system, and the demand for high-end machine tools will continue to grow.
At present, China is the world's largest machine tool market with a total market value of 23 billion euros. Recently, China’s machine tool demand is 2.5 times that of the United States or Germany, which ranks second and third. In 2017, the consumption of Chinese machine tools continued to rise, with an increase of 6%.
According to customs statistics, in 2017 China's machine tool imports totaled 120.65 billion euros, an increase of 18.2% year-on-year; exports were 9.2 billion euros, a year-on-year increase of 13.94%, and the import and export deficit reached 2.865 billion euros. The author believes that with the rapid development of China's auto, aerospace, marine, power equipment, construction machinery and other industries, the demand for CNC machine tools will continue to increase.
On the one hand, China is facing the problem of overcapacity of low-grade CNC machine tools and insufficient supply of high-end CNC machine tools, causing structural imbalances on the supply side. Domestic machine tools are difficult to substitute for imports; on the other hand, with the advent of “smart manufacturing”, the factory floor With the development of digital, industrial robots and additive manufacturing, the reliance on imported machine tools will increase further. In particular, the demand for high-end machine tools will increase. Germany, as one of the major importers of Chinese machine tools, is affected by the increasing demand for Chinese machine tools. It is expected that the export volume to China will show an upward trend in 2018.
In terms of exports of Chinese machine tools to Germany, the export volume has maintained a stable development trend. In the past five years, Germany’s purchases accounted for a total of 4% to 5% of China's total machine tool exports, and it is expected that it will remain stable in 2018. However, in the long run, with the continuous development of advanced technologies for Chinese machine tools, this figure will increase.
According to the Oxford Economic Research Institute, from the overall economic performance, industrial output, and capital investment to machine tool consumption, all key statistics of China-Germany machine tool trade will increase in 2018. In particular, machine tool consumption, which is an important index of bilateral trade quality, is expected to increase significantly after 6% after two years of strong growth.
At present, China is facing multiple challenges such as the deepening of reforms and economic restructuring. With the advent of "Made in China 2025" and the advent of the Industry 4.0 era, China's machine tool industry has ushered in greater opportunities for development and technological change. However, opportunities and dangers coexist. To seize opportunities and reduce risks, the development of the Chinese machine tool industry still has a long way to go.