United States construction machinery exports dropped 36 percent during the first half of 2009, with $6.4 billion shipped to global markets compared to $10.1 billion at midyear 2008, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The AEM off-road equipment manufacturing trade group consolidates U.S. Commerce Dept. data with other sources into global trend reports for members. Exports declined double digits to all regions of the world for the first half of 2009, led by Europe and Canada.
Exports dropped 53 percent to Europe for a total of $777 million, and 45 percent to Canada for a total $1.8 billion. Exports to Asia plunged 30 percent to $939 million.
Exports to Central America dropped 21 percent to $662 million, and 14 percent to South America for a total of $1.2 billion. Exports to Australia/Oceania decreased 42 percent to $497 million, and to Africa 24 percent to $528 million.
“U.S. exports of construction equipment began to erode in third-quarter 2008 with the worsening global recession,” said Al Cervero, AEM senior vice president. “We’re an export intensive industry and the continuing decline is especially detrimental since we’re also experiencing steep cuts in domestic business. The U.S. government has been using various economic stimulus measures to jump-start the economy. The economic stimulus package has fallen short for construction machinery manufacturers. But, free trade increases exports and stimulates the economy.”
AEM urged Congress to pass free-trade agreements already completed and to leave NAFTA alone. “We also need to get our roads and bridges and other infrastructure in good condition so we can move goods to market more efficiently,” Cervero added. “China and many other nations realize the connection and are spending much more on infrastructure than we are — China’s 9 percent of GDP for example compared to 0.93 percent for the U.S.”
The top 10 countries buying the most U.S.-made construction machinery during the first half of 2009 were:
• Canada: $1.8 billion, down 45 percent;
• Mexico: $510 million, down 6 percent;
• Australia: $473 percent, down 43 percent;
• Chile: $425 million, up 5 percent;
• South Africa: $231 million, down 38 percent;
• Belgium: $222 million, down 39 percent;
• Brazil: $216 million, down 16 percent;
• China: $210 million, down 6 percent;
• Peru: $177 million, up 1 percent;
• Colombia: $168 million, up 27 percent.
Other major players on the list include India at No. 16 with $76 million, a 33-percent gain, and No. 18 Russia: $67 million, a 71-percent drop.