Construction Machinery Exports Slid 38 Percent

Construction Machinery Exports Slid 38 Percent

U.S. construction equipment exports dropped more than 38 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year for a total $12.8 billion worth of machinery shipped to other nations, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Steep as the decline was, manufacturers avoided even deeper losses with steady improvement from quarter to quarter as the year wore on. In the fourth quarter, equipment exports increased 26 percent over the third quarter, said AEM.

"Exports have literally been a lifeline for the construction equipment industry, which saw U.S. business plummet more than 40 percent last year and unemployment soar to more than double the national average," said AEM President Dennis Slater. "Global trade has been a significant source of industry expansion in recent years, and many economies are now rebounding faster than the U.S."

Hardest hit regions for export business were Europe, which declined 51 percent to $1.5 billion and Canada, which dropped 41 percent for a total of $3.7 billion. Exports to Australia/Oceania decreased 46 percent from a smaller base to $962 million for 2009.

The global downturn affected every region, but declines for construction equipment exports were smallest in South and Central America. Export sales to South America declined 29 percent in 2009 for a total of $2.4 billion. Central America took delivery of $1.3 billion worth of U.S. construction equipment, a 34-percent decrease, and exports to Asia dropped 35 percent in 2009, for a total of $2 billion.

Africa recorded purchases of $986 million worth of U.S. construction equipment, a drop of 29 percent.

The top buyers of U.S.-made construction machinery for 2009 were:
Canada - $3.7 billion, down 41 percent;
Mexico - $1 billion, down 28 percent;
Australia - $922 million, down 47 percent;
Chile - $763 million, down 16 percent;
Brazil - $513 million, down 29 percent;
China - $487 million, up 15 percent;
Colombia - $392 million, down 17 percent;
Belgium - 360 million, down 48 percent;
South Africa - $353 million, down 49 percent;
Peru - $319 million, down 20 percent;
Saudi Arabia - $238 million, down 44 percent;
Singapore - $214 million, down 48 percent;
Russia - $209 million, down 58 percent;
India - $181 million, up 55 percent;
Venezuela - $165 million, down 57 percent.

Slater said AEM applauded President Obama’s recent "National Export Initiative" to promote trade and the administration's renewed focus on revamping the U.S. visa-application process.

Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at tgallagher@joc.com.