Production of plastics processing machinery in 2010 was valued at just over RMB40 billion ($5.9 billion) according to the China Plastics Machinery Industry Association (CPMIA). Of this, exports were valued at just short of RMB6 billion ($885 million).
CPMIA also reports that sales of plastics machinery excluding spares and ancilliaries in China were valued at RMB47.9 billion ($7.07 billion) in 2010, with the imported/local machinery split pegged at 28.1%/71.9%. "As recently as 2008, machine imports accounted for 51.5% of the market but their share declined to 29.5% in 2009," says Helmar Franz, executive director and CSO of China's largest machine builder Haitian (Ningbo).
Franz was speaking at a press event at the recent Chinaplas show in Guangzhou. "We initially thought imports declined in 2009 due to the global economic crisis but the trend contined in 2010, hinting of a more permanent trend." The CPMIA expects the ratio to hit 80:20 in 2015.
A declining import share does not necessarily translate to less exports to China by foreign machinery builders according to Franz. "Imports actually grew from US$1.261 billion in 2009 to US$2.007 billion," he notes. However, there is still some way to go before they reach pre-crisis levels of RMB17.951 bn ($2.58 billion) in 2008.
China remains a net importer of injection molding machines according to CPMIA data, although the gap is closing. Imports in 2009 valued at $575 million grew to $906 million in 2010, whereas Chinese exports grew from $370 million to $637 million. According to Franz, China exported approximately 19,000 injection machines in 2010, of which fully one-third were Haitian machines. Overall, Haitian delivered 30,000 machines in 2010 and saw its revenue up 82.8%.
China also runs a trade deficit for film extrusion machinery. The 2009 imports were valued at $492 million, rising to $722 million in 2010 while exports were valued at $280 million and $366 million, respectively.
What's important to note, however, is that China has already come to dominate global trade in plastics processing machinery in terms of unit shipments. Low-cost Chinese equipment is becoming the machine of choice in emerging markets from South America to Africa. Overall shipments exported out of China number 44,000 units in 2010, versus 15,000 units imported.
China processing machinery production at record levels