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Automation Technologies 2/2014

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Automation Technologies 2/2014

News and Markets back to

News and Markets back to current issue China — the market of superlatives Gerald Scheffels China is not only the world champion of export but also a main market for the international manufacturers of premium machines and cars. For the future, the nation aims at focusing on demanding technologies and a more sustainable development. It is nearly impossible to write about China´s economical development without adding one superlative after the other: The world´s largest trading power, number one in exports, an enormous export surplus, growth rates of up to 14 % per year (in 2013 it was 7.7 %), the world´s largest foreign exchange reserves… In 2013, China contributed 48 % of the world´s steel production and more than 55 % of the cement production. This indicates that the growth is still continuing. Fast transformation process Author: Gerald Scheffels, specialized journalist, Wuppertal, Germany To put it shortly: China, it seems, has run through the transformation from a rural society to a highly industrialized nation in roughly 40 years. In Europe, this process lasted 200 years. And there are many serious scientists who share the opinion that the 21st century will be the century of China. AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 2/2014

News and Markets The figures are impressive indeed. From 2002 to 2013, export and import have risen by the factor ten. In 2013 alone, exports have increased by 7.9 %. In consequence, the trade exchange surplus amounted to 260 bn $ which is 2.5 % of the gross domestic product (GDP). To get a clear picture of the Chinese economy, it must be said that China ist not only the world´s biggest exporting nation, but also a very important market for the international manufacturers of machines and their components. In 2010, Chinese enterprises imported mechanical and electrical products with a value of more than 660 bn $. Well embedded in the global trade exchange The trade connections between China and Germany may well demonstrate the importance of the biggest Asian nation for the global economy. For Germany, China is by far the most important economic partner in Asia and – after the USA – the second biggest on a global basis. The trade volume in 2011 amounted to 144 bn €. German enterprises exported goods with a value of 64.8 bn €, which was an increase of + 20.4 % compared to 2010. More than 43 % of the Chinese imports from the European Union are products “made in Germany”. Machines and cars ae in focus here and have dramatically changed the global balance of the single markets. Just some examples: For a premium car manufacturer like Audi, China was the biggest market in 2013. In consequence, the production basis of the European manufacturers and their suppliers is constantly rising. This is true for cars — the Volkswagen Group alone runs 16 production sites in China and the ZF group, a German supplier of drivetrain technology, 21 — but also for machines and their components. Direct investments from Germany companies in China amount to 1.3 % of the German GDP. In the other direction, more and more Chinese companies are investing in Germany. They open production sites (like the plastics machinery manuf- acturer Haitian/ Zhafir near Nürnberg or construction machinery manufacturer Sany in Bedburg near Cologne) or purchase medium-sized companies like Putzmeister (Sany), Linde Hydraulics (Weichai) and Schiess Aschersleben (Shenyang Machine Tool Corporation). Paradigm shift in industry politics In the current five-year-plan, which sets the frame for the years 2011 to 2015, China has defined key industries which shall be developed with priority: New Energies, materials, information technology, biology, medical technology, protection of environment, aircraft industry, shipbuilding and electromobility. The GDP share of these technologies shall rise from 3 to 8 % within the next three years. This focus shows that China aims at entering resp. strengthening the high-level industries and adding sustainability to the industrial agenda. The nation, it seems, shifts from being the “workbench” of the world to a more innovation-driven economy which moves up the ladder of the production process chain. This, in return, opens new opportunities for international suppliers and partners. The same is true for the goal of pursuing a concept of “ecological civilization”. Here, economists see a real paradigm shift in industry politics — from quantitative to a more qualitybased and innovation-driven growth. Stronger focus on the home market The five year plan also puts a stronger focus on the home market. Here, a growing middle-class of no less that 300 m people (just some millions less than the inhabitants of the USA) form a healthy consumer market who buy, for instance, computers, furniture, cars and other high-value goods. For the production of these goods, machines are needed. So there will be a continuously high demand for industrial equipment. AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 2/2014