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Japan’s machine tool industry in 2021: production, orders, imports, exports (3/3)

May 20, 2022

The Japanese machine tool industry’s production, orders, and import/export results for 2021 have been compiled. According to the “Machinery Statistics” of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), machine tool production increased 23.7% from the previous year to 895,409 million yen. In addition, the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association (JMTBA) announced that the total amount of orders for 2021 increased by 70.9% over the previous year to 1,054.419 billion yen, a significant increase. This result was well above the 2019 level before the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was also a large gap between the amount of production and orders received.

The SEISANZAI Japan editorial team will explain the supply and demand performance of the Japanese machine tools industry in 2021 in three parts.


Click here for part 1 of this article “Production”
Click here for part 2 of this article “Orders”


European and North American market shares stay flat

According to METI’s trade statistics, machine tool exports in 2021 increased 34.6% from the previous year to 712.785 billion yen, with NC machines up 36.8% to 686.699 billion yen, the first increase in three years for both.

Japan MT export value by regionBy region, Asia increased 34.5% from the previous year to 421.028 billion yen, exceeding the 400 billion yen mark again for the first time in three years. North America increased 34.9% to 161.997 billion yen, and Europe increased 34.8% to 115.168 billion yen, both up from the previous year, but both were the third lowest in the past 10 years. It is assumed that export growth slowed due to the limited travel and entry restrictions imposed by the pandemic, which prevented export inspections. East Asia accounted for the highest share of total exports at 46.0%, up 3.0 points from the previous year. North America’s share remained stable at 22.7%, and Europe’s at 16.2%.

By country, China came in first with 235,608 million yen, up 41.8% from the previous year, followed by the U.S. with 139,934 million yen, up 33.5%. The third and fourth places were occupied by Taiwan and South Korea, switching places from the previous year.


Vertical MC Increases in Export

Looking at export value by machine types, vertical Machining Centers (MC) continued to lead the list with 183.887 billion yen, up 63.0% from the previous year. Horizontal lathes, in second place, also increased 26.0% to 138.668 billion yen. Vertical MCs also exceeded their 2019 export due to increased demand for small machines for electronic equipment, which saw increased demand in pandemic. Horizontal lathes, on the other hand, fell well below 2019.

As in the previous year, the U.S. was the top export destination for NC lathes, with China in second place. Italy, which ranked ninth the previous year, jumped 161.6% to 9,321 million yen, moving up to third place.

The top three MC export destinations remained unchanged from the previous year, with China in first place, the U.S. in second, and India in third. Turkey came in sixth place with 8.969 billion yen, up 89.1% from the previous year, and Italy seventh with 7.879 billion yen, up 249.7% from the previous year. Italy’s various policies, such as tax incentives, were successful, and both NC lathes and MCs, its two main products, increased in export value.


China leads in imports

According to trade statistics from the Ministry of Finance, total machine tool imports in 2021 were 60.797 billion yen, up 9.5% from the previous year; NC machine imports also increased for the first time in three years, up 13.4% from the previous year to 52.517 billion yen.

Imports from China came in first, up 52.0% from the previous year to 16.923 billion yen, and Germany was second, down 19.8% to 12.236 billion yen, switching places from the previous year.

By machine type, the top three models stayed the same from the previous year. The top three models were horizontal lathes, which increased 71.1% to 20,702 million yen, followed by NC laser cutting machines, which increased 3.9% to 11,447 million yen, and MCs, which decreased 26.9% to 6,415 million yen.

(Editor: Takuya Saito)

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