The first in-depth study of machine tool trade this year showed a drop in imports and exports across all main sectors.
According to the Machine Tools Technologies Association, the UK’s trade deficit in machine tools fell to £11m in the first quarter of 1999, down from £42m in the same period of 1998. This was because of a sharp drop in imports – especially of non-CNC machines, down 32%.
Two of the largest drops were in non-CNC bending and physico-chemical machines, reflecting a failure to repeat large orders gained at the start of 1998.
Exports to other EU countries fell 26%, but exports to the US, which are less influenced by the pound/euro exchange rate, were down just 4%.
Official statistics on machine tools for May 1999 showed output beginning to improve again, up 5.6% on April.
However, orders on hand continued to fall.
Meanwhile, a report by research firm JD Power-LMC says the UK diesel car market, one of Europe’s weakest, could benefit from tighter emissions targets and the advent of better models.
According to the research, diesel vehicles will account for 19% of UK car sales by 2004, compared to 25% in Germany and 44% in France.