Annual Report 2017

Development of the economic environment

From an economic viewpoint, 2017 exceeded all expectations. Global trade unexpectedly picked up and global economic growth was likewise surprisingly positive. According to an estimate by the organisation of industrial nations OECD, the global economy grew by 3.7 percent in 2017 – the fastest rate since 2011 and 0.3 percentage points better than was forecast at the start of the year.

For the first time in a long while, last year’s upturn in the global economy extended to virtually every region of the world. The emerging economies are gradually shedding their economic weakness and China, too, continues to achieve comparatively strong growth. However the positive development is above all attributable to industrial nations such as the United States and the eurozone, for which the economic data was better than forecast at the start of the year. The German economy grew by 2.5 percent in 2017, its eight successive year of expansion. The business confidence index for manufacturing industry reached a new record high. Capacity utilisation of 87.9 percent is well above the long-term average of 83.7 percent.

Change of Gross Domestic Product in percent

 2017 2016
World3.7 3.2
USA2.3 1.5
Eurozone2.4 1.8
Germany2.5 1.9
China6.8 6.7
Emerging countries4.7 4.4

“German mechanical engineering companies regain their former strength”. The VDMA (German Engineering Federation) had to revise its expectations substantially upwards in the past year. The federation had forecast real output growth of one percent for the German mechanical engineering industry for 2017. According to VDMA figures, mechanical engineering companies closed their order books for 2017 overall up 3.1 percent in real terms compared with 2016. According to VDMA figures, 2017 output growth was achieved emphatically through boosts to export markets. Almost all such markets revealed growth. The major growth contributors were the USA (+12 percent) and China (+24 percent).