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Canada remains as top importer


December 3, 2015
By Andrew Macklin

December 3, 2015 – Despite sharp declines caused by struggling oil and gas and mining sectors, Canada remains the largest importer of U.S.-made construction equipment by $3 billion.

Exports of U.S.-made construction equipment dropped 17.6 percent for the first three quarters of 2015 compared to January-September 2014, for a total $10.8 billion shipped worldwide.

All world regions experienced declines, led by Africa and South and Central America, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The AEM equipment manufacturing trade group cited U.S. Department of Commerce data it uses in global market reports for members.

Exports by World Region
January-September 2015 U.S. construction equipment exports by major world regions compared to January-September 2014:

  • Canada dropped 15 per cent, for a total $4.4 billion
  • South America declined 28 per cent, for a total $1.4 billion
  • Europe dropped 11 per cent, for a total $1.4 billion
  • Asia decreased 10 per cent, for a total $1.4 billion
  • Central America fell 21 per cent, for a total $1.1 billion
  • Australia/Oceania declined 5 per cent to $645 million
  • Africa decreased 36 per cent to $611 million

AEM Market Analysis Overview
AEM’s Benjamin Duyck, director of market intelligence, provides some insights:
The third quarter of 2015 marked the 11th consecutive quarter that U.S. construction equipment exports experienced year over year declines. According to AEM’s third quarter North American Construction Equipment Industry Conditions Trends Report initial results, 35 per cent of survey exporters indicated they experienced a decrease in exports while 50.9 per cent of respondents felt the market had remained stable.

Contrary to the second quarter, imports also declined – 5.71 per cent year over year. Declining imports is a bigger signal to the U.S. market, especially now that imports are relatively cheaper under the stronger dollar. In the third quarter AEM industry conditions survey, 42.3 per cent of respondents indicated U.S. demand for equipment was lower this quarter vs. last year while 30.7 per cent felt the market remained stable. For the next 12 months, overall growth is still expected.

While the global environment is still positive for construction and construction equipment, one of the bigger clouds could be the Chinese market. It is the U.S.’s ninth largest export market for construction equipment and it declined 25 per cent year to date. Another cloud is Brazil, which last week announced its economy was going deeper into a recession after three consecutive quarters of contraction in its GDP. While exports to Canada, our largest trading partner, also decreased, by 15 per cent year to date, Statistics Canada recently reported that the economy returned to quarterly growth.

While it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the declining exports, some of the possible explanations may be the difficulties in exporting equipment with engines that require Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, strengthening local manufacturing industries and a strong U.S. dollar making U.S. manufacturers less competitive. It will be interesting to see where the global economy is going in 2016. While exports might continue to slump, we will also be keeping our eyes on domestic demand and imports.

Exports by Top 10 Countries
The top countries buying the most U.S.-made construction machinery during the first three quarters of 2015 (by dollar volume) were:

  1. Canada – $4.4 billion, down 15 per cent
  2. Mexico – $906 million, down 23 per cent
  3. Australia – $602 million, down 3 per cent
  4. Chile – $388 million, down 11 per cent
  5. Brazil – $347 million, down 39 per cent
  6. Peru – $267 million, down 26 per cent
  7. South Africa – $264 million, down 50 per cent
  8. Belgium – $230 million, down 34 per cent
  9. China – $214 million, down 25 per cent
  10. United Arab Emirates – $182 million, up 57 per cent

Economic Resources Available
AEM’s Construction Equipment Global Markets Export report and select other reports are available to the public through the AEM store (www.safetymaterials.org). AEM members may access the global markets export report on the AEM website (www.aem.org) in Market Intelligence section.