The UK machine tool sector recorded a rare trade surplus in the first half of 1999 as a surge in demand from Mexico balanced lower sales in the US and Europe.
Around £30m of UK-made machine tools were exported to equip an engine plant being built in Mexico.
Exports to EU countries dropped over 10%, but sales in Germany were down just 4%.
Geoff Noon, a statistician for the Machine Tools Technologies Association, said: `Sales to the euro zone held up. But there is a worry about how companies are keeping the business.’
Machine tool imports fell 34%, in line with a general drop in demand.