About 42% of European materials handling production value in 2010 was from exports outside the EU and that figure is expected to grow.
Olivier Janin, secretary general of the European Materials Handling Federation (FEM), tells Forkliftaction.com News
that European materials handling equipment exports have been growing steadily since 2005. "If the trend continues in such a magnitude, we will go above 50% within a couple of years."
EUROSTAT (the official European statistical office) data shows that in 2010, European materials handling production totaled EUR54 billion (USD71 billion). Exports outside the European Union (EU) increased by 7%, while imports into the EU climbed by 18%.
Domestic demand, which still represents the largest share of materials handling equipment sales, declined 8% to EUR30.5 billion (USD40.3 billion). Imports accounted for almost 15% of domestic demand. This is almost triple the figure in 2005, according to FEM.
"Beyond hard figures, the trends revealed by these statistics comfort FEM in its political priorities, and more particularly two of them: trade and market surveillance. Indeed, the increase of exports in the production value makes it even more important to remove trade and access barriers on certain foreign markets through Free Trade Agreements," Janin says.
He stresses that the EU must maintain a framework that enables its companies to compete.
"We know European companies tend to have higher production costs than other regions of the world, but we keep a high level of competitiveness thanks to our know-how, reliability and innovation capacity. These assets must be protected."
FEM depends on EUROSTAT materials handling data and to date, only 2010 figures are available.
The organisation has received indications from its members and product groups that 2011 materials handling production value figures are higher than in 2010.
"One must point out that the lead time between orders and production varies greatly from one product group to another. As orders got much better in 2010 than in 2009, one can reasonably expect that this will show in the 2011 production value. For 2012, it is too early to make any prediction," Janin says.
Founded in 1953, FEM represents European manufacturers of materials handling, lifting and storage equipment. Today, FEM defends the interests of 16 members, representing about 1,000 companies that employ 160,000 people.