Postive outlook for 2008 held by MTA

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The prospects for 2008 still appear to be positive for the engineering sector, according to recent MTA analysis.

The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) has analysed the export/import data for three parts of its sector covering machine tools, cutting tools and tool/work-holding equipment. Acording to Geoff Noon, MTA Statistician: “At first glance 2007 was a mixed year for international trade in the manufacturing technology sector; trends were complicated by some large “one-off” trade especially in machine tool imports and exports of tool/work-holding equipment (in 2006) and by some changes in the machine tool manufacturing base. Analysing these issues, we believe that the strong growth in exports of machine tools to Europe supports our view that the engineering sector there, and particularly in Germany, remains a very positive influence on the business levels being experienced by our members and their customers. The prospects for 2008 still appear to be positive for the engineering sector, led by both direct and indirect export demand from Europe, despite the problems in some other parts of the economy”. In total during 2007, exports of machine tools were worth £471.7 million, while imports were valued at £578.6 million (including “one-off” items, estimated at around £80 million). Of these totals, CNC machine tools accounted for 63 per cent of exports and 67 per cent of imports. There were significant trade surpluses in 2007 for Machining Centres (£26.4 million) and CNC Grinding Machines (£24.4 million); at the same time, there is a significant deficit for CNC Presses (£93.7 million), Physico-Chemical Machines (£25.6 million) and CNC Boring Machines (£21.7 million). Overall, there is a trade deficit of £28.4 million for metalcutting machines and £78.5 million in the metalforming sector. There was also a small trade deficit for cutting tools - these are defined, where possible, as tools for use in cutting metals. Exports during 2007 were worth £198.0 million, 1.7 per cent lower than in 2006, while imports also fell by 1.7 per cent to £214.1 million, leaving a deficit of £16.1 million. For tool/workholding equipment, there is a trade surplus, although at £10 million this was lower than in previous years. In particular, the value of exports fell to £75.4 million largely because the high value of exports to India in 2006 proved to be only temporary, although this is also the lowest figure since we started tracking the data for this sector in 2000. Imports of tool/workholding equipment were also lower than in 2006 at £65.3 million.