U.S. Construction Machinery Exports Down 36 Percent

U.S. 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 (AEM), Milwaukee, Wis. The AEM off-road equipment manufacturing trade group consolidates U.S. Commerce Department data with other sources into global trend reports for members.

All world regions recorded double-digit declines in construction equipment exports for the first half of 2009, led by Europe and Canada.

  • Exports to Europe declined 53 percent for a total $777 million, and exports to Canada dropped 45 percent for a total $1.8 billion.
  • Exports to Asia decreased 30 percent to $939 million.
  • Exports to Central America dropped 21 percent to $662 million, with a lesser decline to South America—minus 14 percent for a total $1.2 billion.
  • Australia/Oceania’s export purchases decreased 42 percent to $497 million, while Africa took delivery of $528 million worth of construction equipment, a 24-percent drop.

“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. It helps keep American manufacturers in business, providing American jobs and economic resources to communities, states and the nation.”

AEM urges Congress to pass the free-trade agreements already completed, and to leave NAFTA alone, Cervero noted. “Other nations are joining in free trade agreements with each other, and we are being left behind,” he said.

“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 continued. “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. We need to be sure U.S. manufacturers have access to business around the world, as other nations ramp up their infrastructure funding to better compete on a global scale.”

The top 10 countries buying the most U.S.-made construction machinery during the first half of 2009 were: (1) Canada – $1.8 billion, down 45 percent; (2) Mexico – $510 million, down 6 percent; (3) Australia – $473 million, down 43 percent; (4) Chile – $425 million, up 5 percent; (5) South Africa – $231 million, down 38 percent; (6) Belgium – $222 million, down 39 percent; (7) Brazil – $216 million, down 16 percent; (8) China – $210 million, down 6 percent; (9) Peru – $177 million, up 1 percent; (10) Colombia – $168 million, up 27 percent.

India came in at No. 16 with $76 million worth of construction equipment purchases, a 33-percent gain compared to midyear 2008. And, No. 18 was Russia at $67 million, a drastic decline of 71 percent from the first half of 2008.