The value of European materials handling equipment produced in 2013 fell by 6.8% to just under EUR56 billion (USD71 billion).
Low domestic demand and stagnating exports were cited by the European Federation of Materials Handling (FEM) as reasons for the decline.
With a total of nearly EUR56 billion (USD71 billion), FEM says the production value is back at its 2005 level. Domestic demand recorded a substantial decline of 12% at EUR 29 billion (USD36.7 billion), only three-quarters of its 2005 level.
Exports stagnated at EUR22.9 billion (USD29.0 billion), but European manufacturers are approaching the point where the bulk of their business comes from outside Europe. Imports grew by 6.5% at EUR4.9 billion (USD6.2 billion).
Olivier Janin, the secretary general of FEM, says the share of exports in Europe's production value means that European manufacturers are increasingly competing on external markets.
"Their competitiveness is therefore crucial and a big part of it comes from their ability to innovate. European policies ought not to limit - but to foster - such an ability so as to safeguard industrial manufacturing in Europe," he says.
FEM, founded in 1953, compiles annual statistical data on the production value and external trade of European materials handling, lifting and storage equipment, all product groups aggregated. The figures are based on Eurostat data, as well as estimates from FEM and VDMA (German Engineering Federation) for equipment not covered by Eurostat (storage equipment and software/automation).