U.S. construction equipment exports still in decline

AEM reports that exports of U.S.-made construction equipment declined 17.6% during the first three quarters of 2015.

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)
AEM 2015ConstructionEquipmentExports 566097f37417d

Exports of U.S.-made construction equipment dropped 17.6% for the first three quarters of 2015 compared to January to 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 to September 2015 U.S. construction equipment exports by major world regions compared to January to September 2014:

  • Canada dropped 15%, for a total $4.4 billion
  • South America declined 28%, for a total $1.4 billion
  • Europe dropped 11%, for a total $1.4 billion
  • Asia decreased 10%, for a total $1.4 billion
  • Central America fell 21%, for a total $1.1 billion
  • Australia/Oceania declined 5% to $645 million
  • Africa decreased 36% 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% of survey exporters indicated they experienced a decrease in exports while 50.9% of respondents felt the market had remained stable.

"Contrary to the second quarter, imports also declined - 5.71% 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% of respondents indicated U.S. demand for equipment was lower this quarter versus last year while 30.7% 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% 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% 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%
  2. Mexico - $906 million, down 23%
  3. Australia - $602 million, down 3%
  4. Chile - $388 million, down 11%
  5. Brazil - $347 million, down 39%
  6. Peru - $267 million, down 26%
  7. South Africa - $264 million, down 50%
  8. Belgium - $230 million, down 34%
  9. China - $214 million, down 25%
  10. United Arab Emirates - $182 million, up 57%