Machinery

Author: Dennis Fravel
International Trade Analyst

Change in 2015 from 2014:

  To view changing data, mouseover the graphic below.
  • U.S. total exports: Decreased by $7.4 billion (5.1 percent) to $138.5 billion
  • U.S. general imports: Increased by $555 million (0.3 percent) to $185.5 billion

U.S. total exports of machinery fell by $7.4 billion (5 percent) in 2015. Some of the largest product-group declines were driven by lower global investment in electric energy production, resulting in declining exports of electric motors, generators, and related equipment.1 Moreover, lower farm commodity prices led to reductions in U.S. exports of farm and garden machinery and equipment, declines in oil and gas industry reduced spending on pumps for liquids, and declines in both business and consumer spending undermined U.S. exports of air-conditioning equipment and parts.2 The export markets that accounted for the largest declines were Canada (down by $2.7 billion, or 11 percent), Brazil (down by $1.1 billion, or 28 percent), South Korea (down by $592 million, or 9 percent), Venezuela (down by $501.4 million, or 31 percent), and Russia (down by $369 million, or 23 percent).

U.S. general imports increased by $555 million (0.3 percent) in 2015, primarily due to growth in imports of major household appliances, including commercial applications.3 However, this growth was almost entirely offset by decreases in U.S. general imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, pumps for liquids, and farm and garden machinery.4

The countries that saw the greatest increases in imports to the United States were China (up by $2.4 billion, or 5 percent), Mexico (up by $988 million, or 3 percent), and South Korea (up by $617 million, or 9 percent) (table MT.1). However, declines in imports from Japan (down by $1.4 billion, or 8 percent) and Canada (down by $763 million, or 6 percent) limited the overall rise in imports.

Table MT.1: Machinery: U.S. exports and general imports, by selected trading partners, 2011–15

 
Million $
 
Item 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Absolute change, 
2014–15
Percent
change, 
2014–15
U.S. exports of domestic merchandise:              
    China 8,980 8,534 9,100 9,602 9,496 -105 -1.1
    Mexico 13,440 15,489 16,479 18,115 17,990 -125 -0.7
    Canada 23,168 25,093 24,805 25,887 23,180 -2,707 -10.5
    Japan 3,478 3,067 3,407 3,827 4,306 479 12.5
    Germany 4,225 4,030 3,994 3,875 3,938 63 1.6
    South Korea 5,516 5,638 5,603 6,515 5,923 -592 -9.1
    Taiwan 4,532 4,601 4,695 4,284 4,875 591 13.8
    Italy 1,068 1,012 1,088 1,046 1,104 58 5.5
    United Kingdom 2,901 2,956 3,050 3,649 3,451 -198 -5.4
    France 1,902 1,964 1,983 2,033 1,953 -80 -3.9
    All other 46,326 50,159 48,252 48,401 43,479 -4,922 -10.2
        Total domestic exports 115,535 122,544 122,458 127,234 119,695 -7,539 -5.9
Foreign exports 14,785 15,985 17,188 18,681 18,793 112 0.6
Total U.S. exports (domestic and foreign) 130,321 138,528 139,646 145,915 138,487 -7,427 -5.1
U.S. general imports:              
    China 36,783 41,031 44,345 48,035 50,431 2,396 5.0
    Mexico 23,180 25,328 26,357 28,926 29,915 988 3.4
    Canada 12,585 13,374 13,591 13,657 12,894 -763 -5.6
    Japan 19,388 20,831 18,911 18,805 17,368 -1,437 -7.6
    Germany 15,389 15,905 16,544 17,793 17,587 -206 -1.2
    South Korea 6,443 6,892 6,635 7,104 7,720 617 8.7
    Taiwan 3,519 3,951 4,006 4,370 4,421 51 1.2
    Italy 5,876 6,100 6,315 7,195 7,020 -175 -2.4
    United Kingdom 3,710 3,994 3,997 4,214 4,112 -102 -2.4
    France 2,760 3,152 3,328 3,417 3,351 -66 -1.9
    All other 26,490 27,226 26,197 31,431 30,683 -748 -2.4
        Total general imports 156,123 167,783 170,225 184,948 185,502 555 0.3

Source: Compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the 2011–15 period. These reflect all official revisions of previously published data up to June 2015 (accessed February 10, 2016).
Note: Import values are based on Customs value; export values are based on free along ship value, U.S. port of export. Calculations based on unrounded data. The trading partners shown are those with the largest total U.S. trade (U.S. general imports plus U.S. domestic exports) in these products in the current year. Re-exports (also called foreign exports) are further defined in the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs).

 

U.S. Exports5

U.S. domestic exports of machinery substantially increased in only one product group, semiconductor manufacturing equipment (up by $1.4 billion, or 10 percent) (table MT.2). Declines in U.S. exports occurred in the other 28 product groups, led by electric motors, generators, and related equipment (down by $1.3 billion, or 15 percent); farm and garden machinery and equipment (down by $1.3 billion, or 12 percent); pumps for liquids (down by $1 billion, or 14 percent); and air-conditioning equipment and parts (down by $899 million, or 9 percent).

Table MT.2: Machinery: Leading changes in U.S. exports and imports, 2011–15 

 
Million $
 
Item 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Absolute change, 
2014–15
Percent
change, 
2014–15
U.S. domestic exports:              
    Increases:              
        Semiconductor manufacturing equipment (MT019A) 14,212 13,116 13,137 14,516 15,912 1,396 9.6
    Decreases:              
        Electric motors, generators, and related equipment (MT023) 7,964 9,315 8,321 8,963 7,621 -1,342 -15.0
        Farm and garden machinery and equipment (MT009) 11,242 13,145 11,654 10,731 9,409 -1,322 -12.3
        Pumps for liquids (MT001) 6,216 7,091 7,400 7,527 6,496 -1,031 -13.7
        Air-conditioning equipment and parts (MT002) 8,540 9,228 9,576 9,594 8,695 -899 -9.4
    All other 67,360 70,648 72,371 75,903 71,562 -4,341 -5.7
        Total 115,535 122,544 122,458 127,234 119,695 -7,539 -5.9
U.S. general imports:              
    Increases:              
        Household appliances, including commercial
applications (MT004)
20,479 21,503 22,619 24,285 26,218 1,932 8.0
    Decreases:              
        Semiconductor manufacturing equipment (MT019A) 13,286 12,205 10,940 13,374 10,976 -2,398 -17.9
        Pumps for liquids (MT001) 6,396 7,304 7,278 8,285 7,654 -631 -7.6
        Farm and garden machinery and equipment (MT009) 6,989 8,110 8,691 9,113 8,578 -535 -5.9
    All other 108,973 118,662 120,697 129,890 132,077 2,188 1.7
        Total 156,123 167,783 170,225 184,948 185,502 555 0.3

Source: Compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the 2011–15 period. These reflect all official revisions of previously published data up to June 2015 (accessed February 10, 2016).
Note: Import values are based on Customs value; export values are based on free along ship value, U.S. port of export. Calculations based on unrounded data.

 

U.S. domestic exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment rose significantly in 2015, with Japan, Taiwan, and China accounting for the largest increases in U.S. exports. During 2014–15, total sales of semiconductor equipment in Japan rose by 31 percent, in China by 12 percent, and in Taiwan by 2 percent.6 In Japan, companies such as the joint venture between Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp.; Micron Technology, Inc.'s Japanese subsidiary, and Sony Corp. invested in semiconductor manufacturing equipment in 2015.7 In Taiwan, semiconductor equipment purchases were driven by large semiconductor foundries (i.e., semiconductor contract manufacturers).8 Shipments to China were likely due to investment by foreign semiconductor producers in their Chinese production facilities—for example, those producing semiconductor memory products.9

The United States experienced steep declines in exports of electric motors, generators, and related equipment to Canada (down by $416 million, or 25 percent), Algeria (down by $318 million, or 62 percent), China (down by $191 million, or 31 percent), and Brazil (down by $185 million, or 50 percent). Almost half of the decline ($201 million) in U.S. exports to Canada occurred in exports of wind turbines, likely due to the completion of various wind energy projects.10 Most of the decline in U.S. exports to Brazil was also due to a drop in shipments of wind turbines.11 The decline in exports to Algeria and China were of electric generating sets related to electric power generation.

The decline in U.S. exports of farm and garden machinery and equipment was attributable to large drops in exports to Canada (down by $606 million, or 18 percent), Brazil (down by $208 million, or 49 percent), Russia (down by $157 million, or 62 percent), and Ukraine (down by $107 million, or 63 percent). In Canada, demand was lower for equipment for row crops, particularly combines.12 The decline in U.S. exports to Brazil was principally due to weakness in the general economy, interruptions in funding for a government financing program, and a lack of growth in the sugarcane sector.13 The unstable economic situation in Russia and Ukraine likely had an adverse effect on U.S. exports to those countries.14 However, some of the decline in U.S. exports was offset by increases in those to China (up by $121 million, or 32 percent), Mexico (up by $85 million, or 6 percent), and Australia (up by $46 million, or 6 percent).

The drop in U.S. exports of pumps for liquids was likely due to wide-ranging declines in capital spending, beginning in the oil and gas industry and spreading to the chemical, power generation, water management, and other general industries, including mining and processing industries.15 Other factors included the stronger U.S. dollar; poor economic and geopolitical conditions in Latin America, the Middle East, and China; and lower aftermarket sales as customers deferred spending on repairs and maintenance.16 The largest declines in such exports were to Canada (down by $442 million, or 24 percent) and South Korea (down by $107 million, or 35 percent).

Lower U.S. exports of air-conditioning equipment and parts were due to a significant drop in exports of centrifugal and axial compressors to Mexico and China. These were likely for use with natural gas in either processing industries or in natural gas exploration or pipeline applications.

U.S. Imports

U.S. imports of machinery rose by $555 million (0.3 percent) in 2015, driven by increases in U.S. consumer spending, select business investment, and residential construction, though offset by investment declines in semiconductor manufacturing. The largest increase was in U.S. imports of household appliances, including for commercial applications (up by $1.9 billion, or 8 percent). The largest declines in U.S. machinery imports were in semiconductor manufacturing equipment (down by $2.4 billion, or 18 percent), pumps for liquids (down by $631 billion, or 8 percent), and farm and garden machinery and equipment (down by $535 million, or 6 percent).

The increase in U.S. imports of household appliances, including commercial applications, was largely due to increased imports of refrigeration equipment. Imports of household appliances primarily rose from China (up by $921 million, or 8 percent) and from Mexico (up by $810 million, or 14 percent). The North American appliance market grew by about 6 percent during 2015, driven by a good macroeconomic environment, increased housing starts, and rising purchasing power with a strong premium market segment.17

U.S. imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment declined as U.S. semiconductor producers purchased less equipment, in part due to higher investments in equipment in 2014.18 Between 2014 and 2015, sales of semiconductor equipment in North America fell by 37 percent.19

Lower U.S. imports of pumps for liquids were likely related to declines in spending in many end-use markets, as previously noted, but with particularly reduced spending on infrastructure in the U.S. crude petroleum and natural gas industry in 2015.

U.S. imports of farm and garden machinery and equipment fell due to reduced prices for farm commodities and lower U.S. farm income, leading to less spending on farm machinery and equipment.20 Lower imports from Canada, Germany, and Italy were somewhat offset by higher imports from India and South Korea.

 

1 USITC DataWeb/USDOC (for commodity group MT023; accessed May 11, 2016).
2 USITC DataWeb/USDOC (for commodity groups MT001, MT002, and MT009; accessed May 11, 2016). The product grouping titled “commercial and residential air-conditioning machinery” also includes compressors that are not only used in air-conditioning machinery, but also in refrigeration, petroleum and natural gas, mining, and construction machinery, and other industrial machinery.
3 USITC DataWeb/USDOC (for commodity group MT004; accessed May 11, 2016).
4 USITC DataWeb/USDOC (for commodity groups MT001, MT009, and MT019A; accessed May 11, 2016).
5 As appropriate, this section will address total exports, domestic exports, and re-exports.
6 SEMI, “SEMI Reports 2015 Global Semiconductor Equipment Sales,” March 14, 2016.
7 SEMI, “Seven Facts about Japan Semiconductor Manufacturing,” November 4, 2014; Manners, “Toshiba, SanDisk Move in 3D NAND Manufacturing,” October 21, 2015.
8 SEMI, “Taiwan Tops Fab Spending,” June 29, 2015.
9 Mearian, “China Poised to Play Pivotal Role,” November 12, 2015.
10 U.S. exports of wind generators to Canada rose from $187 million in 2012, to $216 million in 2013, to $278 million in 2014, before falling to $77 million in 2015 (down by $200 million, or 72 percent). USITC DataWeb/USDOC (accessed May 11, 2016). Vestas, a U.S. subsidiary of Wind Systems A/S (Sweden), with production facilities in Colorado, received a large order for wind generators in 2013, with completion of the project by mid-2014. Vesta appears to have had fewer orders to Canada in 2014 and 2015. Vestas, “Vestas Receives 299 MW Order in Canada,” April 8, 2013; Vestas, “Announced Wind Turbine Orders,” n.d. (accessed July 6, 2016).
11 U.S. exports of wind generators to Brazil rose from $134.1 million in 2012 to $198.7 million in 2013, then fell to $167.6 million in 2014 and to just $28.3 million in 2015. Much of this exported equipment was likely shipped from General Electric Co. to projects in Brazil, with completion by the end of 2014. USITC DataWeb/USDOC (accessed May 11, 2016); Gyulev, “GE to Install 600 Wind Turbines in Brazil,” August 31, 2012.
12 AGCO, “Form 10-K,” February 26, 2016, 20.
13 Ibid.
14 Lee, “Why the Russian Economy Is Tumbling,” April 12, 2016. See the “Russia“ webpage for more information.
15 Flowserve, “Form 10-K,” February 18, 2016, 29–30.
16 Ibid., 29.
17 AB Electrolux, Electrolux Annual Report 2015, March 2, 2016, 52.
18 Applied Materials, “Form 10-K,” December 9, 2015, 34.
19 SEMI, “SEMI Reports 2015 Global Semiconductor Equipment Sales,” March 14, 2016.
20 U.S. net farm income declined by 38 percent during 2013–15. USDA, ERS, “Ag Sector Weakness Forecast to Continue into 2016,” February 9, 2016.