Brexit is yet another reason for uncertainty. “Should one, must one, invest in the UK? Or withdraw from the UK? It can be compared with individual decisions everyone faces every day: Do I sell my house, buy a new car, or not, while the future is uncertain?”
By comparison and despite the mentioned uncertainties, the Central European countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH) remain as before at a good level, moving sideways.
The US has been doing well for the past years due to introduced investment incentives such as tax reductions.
“But I am not sure how long it will continue. Every incentive has its peak. Anyhow, US converters have to consider if they are really producing efficiently, as the installed machine park is still quite old on average, compared to other world regions,” said the Engel CSO.
Industry 4.0, he noted, is a further driver for investments in the US, as its features enable productivity and efficiency increases, also in areas where sufficient skilled labour force is not available.
China, as an economic motor for other countries will grow more slowly now, if forecasts for GDP growth are correct, according to Steger.
“In this respect, a Chinese entrepreneur is just as cautious as a European one and will think twice before making a new investment at the moment,” said the company officials.
On the other hand, the southeast Asian region can profit from US/China trade conflicts, also due to some production being transferred from China.
“Overall, the situation is still more like a cooling flame than a fire”, Steger concluded.
In South America, according to Steger, hopes are high that the new Brazilian president will have positive impact on the region's largest economy.
While development is good in Colombia and Chile, Argentina still seems to be grappling with difficulties
And as regards Venezuela, “it is almost tragic to see that one of the oil-richest countries in the world has not managed to make a turnaround and utilize this resource to develop the economy”.
Russia is at a good level. “Of course, there are challenges. Europeans have problems in EU/Russia relationships, with both sides in politics setting the mood. But I believe in Russia and its economy and therefore Engel will continue its strong presence in Russia”, Steger said.
“As I said at Fakuma 2018, markets are no longer growing. One thing is certain, double-digit percentage growth is over, but it is not yet the time to talk about a crisis.
Problems of plastics waste have become clear not only in Europe, but also in the US.
If interest grows here, it could give a boost to growth in production, supported by SPI Plastics (formally SPI) initiatives promoting responsible use of plastics.
“Proper waste collection systems are an important prerequisite that still have not been developed to the necessary extent, not even in Europe. But it is interesting that Sabic made first steps with chemical recycling of plastics waste back to feedstocks”.
There are several activities in Latin America recycling fishing nets into palettes, and in Europe “it is interesting that for example Werner & Mertz's Frosch cleaner brand is being promoted with cradle-to-cradle packaging features. The main challenge though is to be active everyday, looking at what can be done differently with design for recycling and how to handle multilayer plastics packaging”.
“Plastics are being demonised, despite everyone being confronted by the advantages of plastics packaging. There will be huge changes in the future. The circular economy is now in focus, so we have to ask ourselves: What can we do about it as a machine producer? We have a responsibility to be involved, and pro-actively, by working together on common solutions with our customers and their customers, in order to support society”.