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Export of machines from Germany to China 2008 - 2020

Exports of the German machinery industry are lagging behind China's growth since 2012

Up to 2014 China had become the most important export market for machines from Germany outside the EU, having substituted the USA in 2009. How have machinery industry's exports responded to China's growth?

Update October 29th, 2021 - China's industrial production since 2008 is analyzed by a separate report. It showed rising growth rates from 2008 to 2011, which have been softening since 2012.

It is to consider that the growth rates are related to an ever larger absolute basis. Regardless whether growth rates are changing, under the line the fact remains of a continuous growing industrial production in China.

For a better comparison, the following diagram refers the industrial production of China and the export quota of German machines to China to a common starting point, namely the year 2008, set at 100.

The result of this comparison speaks for itself:


  • While China's industrial production grew by 166% between 2008 and 2020, machine exports from Germany only increased by 78%, less than half.

In 2020, machinery exports from Germany lie at the level of 2011 with an index of 178 and only slightly above their high of 185 index points in 2018.

The exports of the German machinery industry to China and China's industrial production from 2008 to 2020.

With China's industrial production growing dynamically since 2009, machinery exports from Germany to China also rose steeply (red line). These rising machinery exports provided an important valve at the outbreak of the global economic crisis in 2008/2009, preventing even sharper declines in machinery production.

At the same time, they demonstrate the ability to keep German machinery exports to China in line with industrial production growth.

Since 2012, however, machine exports have lagged behind China's industrial growth.

This lagging is occurring in waves: From 2012 to 2016, rising industrial production in China and relatively declining machinery exports increasingly diverged. From 2017 to 2018, the growth of machine exports again exceeds the growth of industrial production in China. From 2019 to 2020, the development gap widens again.

So the question is why German machinery exports have been exploiting the potential of growing industrial production in China to a relatively declining extent since 2012.

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