Unsurprising setback

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In January 2021, the machinery and plant engineering sector recorded a drop in orders of 10 percent in real terms. This came as little surprise, as unusually high orders for large-scale plant business had dominated the picture in the same month of the previous year.

After three months in a row with single-digit growth, machinery and plant manufacturers from Germany recorded a setback in their order books at the start of the year. In January, new orders were 10 percent below the previous year's level in real terms. Nevertheless, the decline came as little surprise. "Since there had been unusually high orders for large-scale plant business from Germany and abroad in January 2020, the bar was set very high for the year-on-year comparison," explained VDMA chief economist Dr Ralph Wiechers. "In addition, some companies had longer plant holidays scheduled over the turn of the year." Domestic orders fell by 22 per cent in January compared to the previous year. Foreign orders, on the other hand, almost offset these effects and fell by only 5 per cent. "Here we have been helped by the comparatively better export economy for some months, especially towards Asia," Wiechers said. While orders from euro countries declined by 1 per cent, orders from non-euro countries were 6 per cent lower. 

"Since there had been unusually high orders for large-scale plant business from Germany and abroad in January 2020, the bar was set very high for the year-on-year comparison."

In the less volatile three-month period from November 2020 to January 2021, order intake stagnated overall compared to the previous year. Although 6 per cent fewer orders came from the domestic market, foreign orders increased by 3 per cent. A plus of 1 per cent was recorded from the euro countries, and 3 per cent more orders came from the non-euro countries.

A video on incoming orders with VDMA Chief Economist Dr Ralph Wiechers can be found on our website from 10 a.m.: vdma.org