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Contacts  Ivo Zimmermann Ivo Zimmermann
Head of Communications division
+41 44 384 48 50 +41 44 384 48 50 i.zimmermannnoSpam@swissmem.ch
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Growing signs of a turnaround

New orders received by the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industries (MEM industries) increased by 11.3% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2013. The 8.0% rise in sales is a further encouraging sign. It seems that the recent proliferation of signals indicating a positive trend in the MEM industries was no flash in the pan. Nevertheless, the European market still presents substantial risks. Whether these figures mean that the long-awaited turnaround has at last arrived will only become clear in the months ahead.

After two and a half years of almost constant declines in order intake, the MEM industries were finally able to record a healthy year-on-year increase of 11.3% in the third quarter of 2013. Thanks to the strong third quarter, orders were up by 1.8% over the first nine months of the current year. Sales by Swissmem companies likewise grew by 8.0% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2013, bringing the overall growth in sales since the beginning of the year to 1.9%. According to the latest figures, the nosedive in capacity utilization has also been successfully halted. Admittedly, the third-quarter level was still very low at 82.1% (long-term average: 86.1%), but thanks to the rise in order intake figures it edged back up to 84.0% in October.

Signs of recovery in the export market

Over the first three quarters of 2013, goods exports by the MEM industries fell by 0.1% overall compared to the previous year. The decline in exports has eased off steadily over the course of the year: after the first quarter of 2013, exports were down by 5.5% year-on-year; after six months, they were down by just 1.6%. If this trend continues, the MEM industries could end the year with a small increase in exports.

Goods exports performed differently, depending on the product category. While exports fell by 2.0% in the mechanical engineering sector, 0.8% in met-als and 0.7% in electronics and electrical engineering, precision instruments had achieved 3.8% growth in exports after the first nine months of the year. Developments across geographical markets were also uneven. Exports to the EU flatlined (-0.2%) while those to Asia fell by 1.3%. By contrast, exports to the USA, the second most important export market for the MEM industries, grew by 2.0%.

Cautiously optimistic

The key indicators have been pointing towards a recovery ever since mid-year. The positive third-quarter order and sales figures have now confirmed these signals. According to Swissmem surveys, these gains are broad-based. Both major companies and SMEs are benefitting from this refreshing tail wind. The companies in the MEM industries are also relatively optimistic regarding the near future. 40.5% of business owners expect orders from abroad to increase in the coming 12 months, with SMEs even having greater expectations in this area than the large companies. Companies are expecting increases in orders from Germany, China and North America in particular. Only 16.3% of companies (22.8% of large companies) are expecting orders to decline. "These figures are encouraging," says Swissmem President Hans Hess. The reasons for the positive trend lie in rising demand from the USA and EU, which, taken overall, seem to have overcome the recession. Nevertheless, substantial risks remain in Europe, the MEM industries’ primary market. "The uptrend in the MEM industries has to continue in the coming months before we can really talk about a turnaround", stresses Hans Hess.

Zurich, 19 November 2013

For further information please contact:
Ivo Zimmermann, Head of Communications
Tel.: +41 (0)44 384 48 50 / mobile: +41 79 580 04 84
E-mail: i.zimmermannnoSpam@swissmem.ch

Philippe Cordonier, Communications Manager, French-speaking Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)21 613 35 85 / mobile: +41 79 644 46 77
E-mail: p.cordoniernoSpam@swissmem.ch