Compared to the previous year for a total $12.8 billion worth of machinery shipped to other nations, in 2009 exports dropped 28%, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).
Export sales to South America declined 29% in 2009 for a total of $2.4 billion compared to 2008. Central America took delivery of $1.3 billion worth of U.S. construction equipment, a 34% decrease, and exports to Asia dropped 35% in 2009, for a total of $2 billion.
Export business to Europe declined 51% to $1.5 billion in 2009, and construction machinery exports to Canada dropped 41% for a total of $3.7 billion.
Africa recorded purchases of $986 million worth of U.S. construction equipment, a drop of 29%, while exports to Australia/Oceania decreased 46% to $962 million for 2009.
The top buyers of U..S.-made construction machinery for 2009 were:
Canada -- $3.7 billion, down 41%
Mexico -- $1 billion, down 28%
Australia -- $922 million, down 47%
Chile -- $763 million, down 16%
Brazil -- $513 million, down 29%
China -- $487 million, up 15%
Colombia -- $392 million, down 17%
Belgium -- $360 million, down 48%
South Africa -- $353 million, down 49%
Peru -- $319 million, down 20%
Saudi Arabia -- $238 million, down 44%
Singapore -- $214 million, down 48%
Russia -- $209 million, down 58%
India -- $181 million, up 55%
Venezuela -- $165 million, down 57%
The good news is that overall, quarter-to-quarter declines steadily improved, ending with a fourth-quarter 2009 gain of 26% over the third quarter, AEM said.
"Exports have literally been a lifeline for the construction equipment industry, which saw U.S. business plummet more than 40% last year and unemployment soar to more than double the national average," stated AEM President Dennis Slater. "Global trade has been a significant source of industry expansion in recent years, and many economies are now rebounding faster than the U.S.
"To help boost U.S. exports, it is essential that federal government policies make it easier for American companies to pursue international business, and for international buyers to more easily travel to the United States to examine and buy American products.
AEM applauds President Obama's recent "National Export Initiative" to promote trade, which includes expanded Export-Import Bank funding for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 20% to 50% of budget.
AEM has launched a pilot program with Ex-Im Bank to guide companies through the loan-application process and maximize their export opportunities.
There is also the issue of revamping the U.S. visa-application process. The group says that international attendance at our trade shows would be much higher if qualified buyers were not subjected to an overly complicated and seemingly arbitrary process.
"We continue to hear numerous complaints of long waiting times and denial after a superficial review. We have experienced up to a 20-percent refusal rate for our CONEXPO-CON/AGG construction show, and we estimate our recent AG CONNECT Expo agriculture show lost significant international attendance because of visa issues. For example, with one potential Indian delegation of about 80 business people, some 90% were denied visas," Slated said.