Japan, Taiwan suffer plunge in machine tool demand from China over viral crisis

11, Mar. 2020

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TOKYO, NNA – Japan and Taiwan, the world’s major machine tool suppliers, are suffering a sharp plunge in demand from China as the coronavirus outbreak looms over the manufacturing sector.

Japan’s machine tool orders in February dropped 30.1 percent from a year earlier to 76.7 billion yen ($732 million), preliminary data released Tuesday by the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association showed. The latest monthly figure is the lowest since January 2013, according to a Kyodo News report.

External demand in February fell 34.2 percent on year to 44.8 billion yen, the data showed, which is the weakest since January 2010 as the prolonged Lunar New Year Holidays in China due to the spread of the coronavirus particularly hampered overseas demand, the report said.

The industry body said Japanese machine tool makers weren’t able to run ordinary sales activities due to travel restrictions and slowdown in economic activities in China in February, according to the report.

For the first two months of this year, orders fell 33.0 percent to 157.5 billion yen. Demand in Japan declined 23.3 percent on year in February and 30.4 percent in the January-February period, according to the data.

In the meantime, machine tool exports from Taiwan shed 19.3 percent from a year earlier to $145.8 million in February and 28.9 percent on year to $331 million in the first two months of 2020, the Taiwan Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association said Monday.

China is the largest market for Taiwanese machinery makers, normally accounting for about 25-30 percent of the total machine tool exports.

But in February this year, machine tool shipments to China, including Hong Kong, plummeted 40.6 percent from the same month of the previous year to $24.9 million, the association’s data showed.

In the January-February period, shipments tumbled 41.3 percent on year to $70.1 million, according to the data.