According to the statement obtained by a robot group on Thursday, the intensifying Sino- U.S. trade war has hit spending on equipment due to which the sale of industrial robots is expected to slump by a third of last year in the world’s biggest market; China.
While Chinese demand for robots surged 59% to 137,920 units last year, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in its annual report has forecasted that the growth for the same will be 15-20%.
Global demand will take a hit by China’s slowing demand considering it accounts for 36% of the global robot market and its sales volume incidentally exceeds the total of the Americas and Europe combined.
Last year the industrial robot sales grew by 30%, however according to reports by IFR which brings together almost 60 global robot suppliers and integrators; the sales this year are estimated to grow at 10%.
This situation has caused many manufacturers across the globe to sit back and contemplate the option of shifting production from China to another nation such as United States or Vietnam, according to Junji Tsuda, the IFR President.
Last year, with accelerated automation at smartphone and automobile plants, China found itself in a very advantageous position. 75% of the robot sales in China including locally produced; was contributed by foreign suppliers majorly including Japanese and European robot makers.
IFR’s report stated that in the beginning of this year, China lost impetus in case of robots’ demand compared to the huge rise in sales in the first half of last year.
According to Tsuda, even though the direction of the trade war is not clear, the global demand for smartphones, semiconductors and autos has been solid due to which the “wait- and- see” mode may end soon.
Slowdown in smartphone related demand in China and increasing concern over the trade dispute were the reasons cited by Yaskawa, robot manufacturer giant globally for the cut in its annual operating profit from 65.5 billion yen to 59 billion yen ($524.40 million) last week.
An average 14% increase per year through 2021 in global robot market growth from next year onwards is estimated by IFR.
Trade conflict and its potential adverse economic impact caused China’s benchmark stock index to four- year lows on Thursday, including the fall of shares of Fanuc Corp by 4.1%, Yaskawa by 7.8% and other Asian companies with large Chinese market exposure.