European machine tool production is estimated to rise 3% from 2014 to a total of €23.6 billion ($26.6 billion) in 2015, while combating declining demand in emerging markets. “The improving demand in European markets is confirmed by the strong order intake,” according to CECIMO, the union of trade associations for machine tool manufacturers in 15 EU nations. “In the second quarter of 2015, the CECIMO domestic orders’ index increased by 6% and 14%, in comparison with the previous quarter and the same quarter last year, respectively. We expect the European machine tool consumption to grow for the next four years,” it said.

CECIMO represents more than 1,500 companies and claims its member associations represent 97% of machine tool production in EU, and more than 33% of the world’s machine tool production capacity.

Dr. Frank Brinken, chairman of CECIMO Economic Committee and a director for several machine tool companies, gave a report on the economic state of Europe’s export-focused machine tool sector in conjunction with EMO 2015, in Milan, Italy.

The current growth pattern continues the stable demand for machine exhibited in more developed regions of the world during 2014, namely in Europe and North America. Elsewhere, the trend is less positive.

“Rising wages in the emerging economies put pressure on production costs,” Brinken commented. That effect has been offset by the high degree of productivity achieved by European manufacturers, which provides a competitive advantage against adverse global conditions.

European machine tool exports totaled €18.2 billion ($20.5 billion) in 2014, and CECIMO expects 2015 exports to grow by 3% to €18.7 billion ($21.1 billion). That would represent the sectors’ second-best result of all time, CECIMO noted.

CECIMO observed that a weak euro caused EU regional imports of machine tools to grow at a slower pace in 2014, rising to €8.8 billion ($9.9 billion). Now, it anticipates that European manufacturers’ capital investment totals will rebound in 2015, after two years of decline, and push machine tool imports to a 3% increase in 2015, up to €9.2 billion ($10.3 billion) this year.

European machine tool demand increased by 10% overall in 2014 to €13.7 billion ($15.4 billion), and CECIMO forecasts that trend will continue in 2015, driving regional machine tool consumption to a total of €14.2 billion ($16 billion) this year.

Even so, CECIMO characterizes regional capital investments in manufacturing as insufficient to maintain the global competitiveness of European manufacturing. Filip Geerts, director-general of CECIMO stated: “The EU decision makers must use the European Fund for Strategic Investments to finance support programs helping to accelerate ‘technology transfer’ whilst tackling the underinvestment problem.”