In the third quarter of 2006, incoming orders at the 290 companies reporting to Swissmem were up 18.1% as against the same quarter last year. Although the high growth rates of previous months were maintained with respect to export orders (+21.5%), the growth trend for domestic orders could not be sustained (+0.4%).
Based on a nine-months comparison, incoming orders were up 22.6% on the previous year. The growth in export orders (+25%) was more than twice that of domestic orders (+10.3%). From January to September, the sales of the MEM industries increased by 8.8% as against the same period last year. Export sales increased by 10.6% and domestic sales by 2.6%.
At the end of June 2006, the MEM industries had an overall workforce of white-collar and payroll staff of 311,863 employees, which represents an increase of 2.6% versus the previous year. Production-capacity utilization was 89% in September 2006, about the same as in previous months.
Increase in exports
The worldwide exports of the MEM industries reached a total value of CHF 50.7 billion in the first nine months. This represents an increase of 12.6% as against the same period in the previous year. Among our most important trading partners, high growth rates were primarily achieved in China (+17.5%), Austria (+16.6%), The Netherlands (+15.6%) and Germany (+15.3%). With respect to our medium-sized trading partners, significant export growth was mainly achieved in Eastern Europe: Ukraine (+67.6%), Russia (+52.6%), Bulgaria (+34%), Estonia (+28.3%) and Poland (+27.2%) provided the MEM industries with a significant increase in business versus the previous year.
Weaker growth expected
The Swissmem companies questioned in the survey are expecting a continuation of the strong momentum from abroad, although conditions in the chief markets are seen as slightly less favourable compared to the first half of 2006. Domestic business is expected to subside in the coming months. Expectations for Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe were more favourable than in the previous survey. The long-term growth prospects for the MEM industries remain positive. A weakening world economy will however have a moderating effect on the heavily export-oriented MEM industries.
Another risk for the export economy is the possible rejection of the Swiss Federal Law on Eastern Europe by the Swiss voter. A negative response to the proposed law may result in less favourable trade relations with the EU and greater restrictions on access to European markets.
For further information please contact:
Jonas Lang, Communication
Tel. +41 (0)44 384 48 33