Rock to Road

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Strong U.S. dollar impacts equipment imports


March 3, 2016
By Andrew Macklin

March 3, 2016 – Canada has continued to be the strongest importer of U.S.-made construction equipment despite the significant impact of the rising U.S. dollar.

Canada finished the year with $5.5 billion in import for a drop of 18 per cent, almost inline with the overall 19 per cent decline compared to the previous year for a total $13.9 billion shipped worldwide.

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

AEM is the North American-based international business group representing the off-road equipment manufacturing industry.

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Year-end 2015 U.S. construction equipment exports by major world regions compared to year-end 2014:

  • Canada dropped 18 per cent, for a total $5.5 billion
  • Asia decreased 10 per cent, for a total $1.8 billion
  • Europe dropped 12 per cent, for a total $1.7 billion
  • South America declined 33 per cent, for a total $1.7 billion
  • Central America fell 23 per cent, for a total $1.5 billion
  • Australia/Oceania declined 1 per cent for a total $882 million
  • Africa decreased 37 per cent for a total $777 million 

AEM Market Analysis Overview
AEM’s Benjamin Duyck, director of market intelligence, provides some insights:

As 2015 came to an end we can take stock of the yearly export trends. In the fourth quarter of 2015, construction machinery exports continued to experience year-over-year declines for the 12th consecutive month. The year-end also marked the 3rd consecutive yearly decline. These declines do need to be placed in the proper context as exports boomed after the Great Recession and strongly supported the U.S. construction equipment industry. Additionally, there are regional differences affecting exports.

The deteriorating export position does not come as a surprise as the U.S. faces strong external headwinds. Global economic markets such as China and Brazil are experiencing deep-rooted structural problems and a strong U.S. dollar is making U.S. exports more expensive for international buyers. The lower commodity prices (metals and energy) are causing shifts in some market segments and equipment demand, domestically and internationally.

As noted before, U.S. exports are not deteriorating as strongly for every region. For example, 2015 exports to Australia, the U.S. 3rd largest trading partner, grew 2.5 percent compared to 2014 (and were up 20 percent in the 4th quarter compared to the same quarter in the previous year). While for 2015 there was a small 1-percent regional decline for Australia/Oceania, the region clearly outperformed the global community.

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

  • Canada – $5.5 billion, down 18 per cent
  • Mexico – $1.2 billion, down 24 per cent
  • Australia – $829 million, up 2.5 per cent
  • Belgium – $334 million, down 28 per cent
  • Chile – $492 million, down 20 per cent
  • United Arab Emirates – $272 million, up 73 per cent  
  • South Africa – $344 million, down 49 per cent
  • Peru – $330 million, down 28 per cent
  • Brazil – $403 million, down 44 per cent
  • China – $267 million, down 27.5 per cent

Economic Resources Available
AEM provides a variety of market macroeconomic and industry trend data for members as well as survey opportunities and custom research. Visit www.aem.org in the Market Data/Market Intelligence section. For more information, contact AEM’s Benjamin Duyck, director of market intelligence (bduyck@aem.org).