American Machinist

Japan, Europe boost consumption. (World Machine-Tool Output Survey)

Japan, Europe boost consumption

JAPAN WEST GERMANY, AND ITALY substantially increased their investment in machine tools last year, while consumption in the United States actually declined. Japan's increase placed it ahead of the Soviet Union, which had held the lead in absorbing the machinery.

In terms of production, Italy, West Germany, and Japan also increased their shipments of metalcutting and metalforming machines. The US declined in output of the basic tools of durable-goods manufacturing. Total output of all machine-tool-producing nations rose 9 1/2% to an estimated $46 1/2-billion.

Machine-tool consumption is calculated as domestic production plus imports less exports, and it is often seen as a measure of a country's rate of industrialization. Consumption calculations for many countries in the exclusive AMERICAN MACHINIST annual world machine-tool output survey are presented in the bar chart on this page and are based on the main production and trade table, overleaf. Another table, presenting estimated 1990 machine-tool consumption per capita for all the countries in the survey, is on the last page of this article.

American consumption fell 11% last year, following a 25% gain in 1989 from previously depressed levels. Per-capita consumption in the US last year was $18, roughly half that of the former East Germany and Taiwan, a third that of Italy and Japan, and a fifth that of the former West Germany.

American production also fell by 11%, with the makers of forming machines declining slightly more than their cutting-machine counterparts. The good news for American machine-tool builders, however, was the their exports rose, by 12%, reflecting improved competitiveness of their products.

What first appears as another piece of good news for American builders is canceled by the US market's decline. Last year, imports into the US fell, to $2.34-billion from $2.40-billion. But instead of meaning that American builders were regaining share of their domestic market, it actually meant that that market eroded. Imports accounted for 48% of American consumption in 1989> 1990 estimates increase that share to nearly 53%.

West Europe gains

Led by the former West Germany, the 12 member industries of CEMICO, the Western-European consortium of machine-tool industries, made an impressive 30% gain in production. Taken as a whole, CECIMO continues to represent the single largest segment of worldwide production (see pie chart).

CECIMO, which sponsors the EMO show in Paris this June, includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Three-quarters of the group's members also belong to the 12-country European Community headquartered in Brussels.

The East Bloc nations of the Comecon alliance fared less well, Total shipments by the Soviet Union, the former East Germany, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary fell an estimated 14% in 1990, reflecting the wrenching economic restructuring there. …

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