In the fourth quarter of 2022, exports of construction and earthmoving equipment recorded the highest quarterly level of trade since 2013 (since trade has been monitored) in both £ value and tonnage shipped terms. For 2022 overall, the level of exports were close to the high levels seen in 2018 and 2019, which were the highest in the last ten years.
Imports of construction and earth moving equipment in Q4 were slightly below the very high levels seen in Q3, in both £ value and tonnage shipped terms. However, for 2022 overall, imports of equipment were at the highest levels recorded since 2013.
Exports of equipment in Q4 were £1,228 million representing a 38% increase on Q3 levels and were the highest quarterly level since at least 2013. For 2022 in total, exports reached £4,012 million, an increase of 16.5% on 2021 levels. As highlighted in earlier reports, these high levels of trade in £ value terms can be partly attributable to the higher prices being seen for equipment during the last year due to increases in the price of steel and some other products used in machine manufacture. The value of the £ also fell in 2022 against some key currencies, which will have also contributed to higher prices. However, the latest tonnage shipped data illustrates that that the underlying level of export trade was very robust last year. In Q4, exports were 205 k tonnes, an increase of 19% on Q3 levels. For 2022 in total, exports reached 687 k tonnes, which was close to the high levels seen in 2018 and 2019, as highlighted above. Unfortunately, a comparison can still not be made with shipments in 2021, because the problems with customs data from the Netherlands and the Irish Republic have still not been corrected (highlighted in red in the table below). The share of total UK exports to EU markets is shown in the table below and indicates the continuation of a downward trend. The EU share fell further to 44% in 2022, after peaking at 50% in 2020 and can be partly attributed to a post Brexit effect.
Imports of equipment in Q4 were £683 million, only 3% below Q3 levels. This took total imports in 2022 to £2,715 million, which was a 30% increase on 2021 levels, and is the highest annual level since monitoring of trade began in 2013. Imports of tonnage shipped in Q4 were 97 k tonnes, which was 10% down on Q3 levels. However, total imports in 2022 reached 419 k tonnes, which was 6% above 2021 levels, and also the highest since 2013. This is consistent with equipment sales in the UK remaining at very high levels compared with earlier years. The EU share of total imports is shown in the table below, and similar to exports, remained on a downward trend last year. This was at 57%, which is the lowest since at least 2018.
The UK remained a net exporter of construction and earthmoving equipment during 2022, with exports (£4,012 million) 47% higher than imports (£2,715 million). However, this was a smaller margin than in 2021 overall, when exports were 64% higher than the level of imports.
EU share of UK trade
UK trade by £ value
UK trade by machine weight
Exports of Equipment by Country of destination
During 2022, UK exports of equipment were shipped to 170 different countries. The table below shows rankings for the Top 20 countries based on weight of machines shipped (tonnes) in the last two years. However, for 2021, the country ranking was switched to a £ value basis due to the problem with tonnage shipped data from customs, as referred to earlier (problem areas highlighted in red). In 2022, the Top 20 countries accounted for just over 80% of total exports on both a value and tonnage shipped basis.
The USA remained the top destination for UK exports in 2022, and increased its share of total exports to 29%, compared with levels between 22% and 23% in the previous two years on a £ value basis. Exports to the Irish Republic also showed strong growth in 2022, showing nearly 30% growth on 2021 levels and reached £260 million. This maintained its position in second place in the destination country rankings, returning it to the position achieved in 2020. The destination country that had shown the strongest growth for exports during 2021 was Russia, when it reached 5th place in the ranking. However, not surprisingly, its ranking has fallen to 20th place during 2022 with no exports at all during Q4, following the imposition of trade sanctions due to the invasion of the Ukraine.
Incorrect data from customs
Imports of Equipment by Country of origin
In 2022, UK imports of construction and earthmoving equipment arrived from over 75 different countries. The table below shows rankings for the Top 20 importing countries based on weight shipped (tonnes) in the last two years. In 2022, the Top 20 countries accounted for close to 97% of total imports in both weight and value terms.
Similar to previous years, Japan has remained as the leading source for UK imports in 2022 on a tonnage shipped basis, while Germany remains as the leading source on a £ value basis. Between them, the top two countries account for between 26% to 27% of total imports in both tonnage shipped and value terms. Despite maintaining a leading position, imports from Japan were 11% lower than 2021 levels. This is attributed to problems associated with supply chain constraints, and is consistent with the UK market seeing reduced levels of excavator sales this year, where Japan is a key supplier of this type of equipment. In contrast, imports from Germany showed significant increases last year on both a £ value (18%) and tonnage shipped basis (7.5%). As reported in previous reports, imports from France continued to show significant growth during 2022. Trade on both a tonnage shipped and £ value basis more than double compared with 2021 levels and elevated France to 4th place in the country ranking, compared with 10th place in 2021.
Definition of equipment included in the analysis of export and import statistics
The data used in this report is taken from HMRC official trade statistics, and covers construction and earth moving equipment (excluding separate trade data for components and parts). Trade data has been used from 9 different HS (Harmonized System) codes. This consists of the following at the 4 digit level:
8413 – concrete pumps
8426 – cranes
8474 – crushing and screening equipment, and concrete, mortar and other types of mixers
8479 – machinery for public works
8701 – track-laying tractors 8704 – dump trucks for off-highway use
8705 – concrete mixer lorries and pumping vehicles
8429 – construction and earthmoving equipment – including bulldozers, graders, scrapers, loaders, excavators, shovels, tamping machines and road rollers
8430 – pile driving and pile extracting equipment, tamping and compacting machinery
Paul Lyons – March 2023
Source: CEA (Construction Equipment Association) News