German machine builders expect only slight growth in 2017 | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 13.12.2016
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German machine builders expect only slight growth in 2017

The German Engineering Association expects slight growth in 2017 and has advocated for more free trade. Industry representatives also urge China to be fair to foreign investors.

Carl Martin Welcker, the new president of the German Engineering Association (VDMA), told reporters in Frankfurt that German machine builders were feeling the impact of uncertainties after the Brexit vote and the US presidential election. Nonetheless, he expected the industry to grow slightly next year, with sales projected to increase by about one percent to 224 billion euros ($238 billion), he added during the lobby group's annual news conference on Tuesday.

The machine building industry accounts for around one million jobs in Germany. It exports more than three quarters of its products and has suffered from a weak global economy for years. Many companies have been holding back on investing in machines and other equipment.

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Machines with the "made in Germany” label are popular. But new protectionist tendencies in many countries are making the industry concerned.

"Walls and protective tariffs are not the answer,” said Welcker. Especially the election of Donald Trump has created more unpredictability, since the president-elect has continuously spoken out against free trade agreements. Exports to the US are already down 2.4 percent this year.

Welcker also pointed out that Germany needed more equal opportunities for investment in China. "Overall we have had good experiences with Chinese investors in the manufacturing sector.” But accusing China of not being as open to investment as Germany, Welcker said "we want to have the opportunity to invest in all foreign markets.” Exportsto China are down 11.5 percent so far this year.

tr/uhe (dpa, Reuters)

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