Column number 85 – 2022

Nice to meet you, and is not a cliché. After two years of pandemic, more than three months of war in Europe: geopolitical scenarios change quite rapidly and generate economic and social changes that are difficult to understand, let alone anticipate. For companies, these are complex moments: if there were not a war that threatens the heart of Europe, there would be hardly any complaints. In the end, machine tool orders in the first quarter of 2022 fell, but only slightly, while the growth of exports outside the European Community showed encouraging growth. However, the uncertainty due mainly to three factors weighs heavily on the best first quarter of the last three years: the war and the resulting economic sanctions, which have cut out a decidedly large market; the resurgence of the pandemic in China and the Far East, which is blocking trade; the increase in energy and transport costs, the impact of which has not yet been fully felt, but which will undoubtedly have significant effects in the near future also on the steel and machine tools sector.

Speaking of steel, the first signs of fibrillation in the sector can be read in the companies’ request to the European Community to review the protectionist measures in force since 2018: these are drastic actions that, in over three years of operation, have put the companies in difficulty. Now, together with the sanctions against Russia and Belarus and the disappearance of the Ukrainian market, they have made life very difficult for operators who ask Europe not to forget them between the anvil of duties and the hammer of sanctions. A new approach, says the Director General of Cecimo, Filip Geerts, would be of capital importance to ensure European competitiveness, already severely tested by the costs of energy and the difficulties in procuring some materials following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The general economic climate among CECIMO machine tool manufacturers remains positive, reaching 23% of the positive percentage balance in the first quarter of 2022. Considering all the factors that currently influence entrepreneurial activity, such as the shortage of skilled labor, the shortage of raw materials, delivery constraints, uncertainty caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war and rising energy prices, machine tool manufacturers still expect the general economic climate to remain positive in the second quarter of 2022 (+4 %).

After the cancellation of the 2020 edition, the most important fair in the sector is back on the unusual date of the end of June. Tube will take place in Düsseldorf from 20th to 25th June with a good participation of exhibitors and a barely noticeable decrease in the exhibition area: dedicated to the themes of the green economy, Tube will be the first real opportunity to meet in person after years spent in front of the computer screen : for all, the wait is only slightly masked by the ostentatious affectation of normality. There will be no large companies, cut off from a conflict that always hovers in every area of ​​our daily activities, there will be a little lack of habit, and perhaps it will also be a bit strange to find ourselves after such a long time, we will be rusty in moving around the fair, they will also miss many people who have disappeared due to Covid-19.

The best wish, however, remains to finally meet in the aisles of a fair, and what a fair. It will be a pleasure to see you and, for once, it will not be a cliché.