Europe Faces Uncertain Economic Future

October 31, 2001
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HANNOVER, Germany — So, what is happening economically in Europe in the hvacr sector since Sept. 11?

During the most recent International Trade Fair for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Ventilation (IKK), a statement was issued by the VDKF, a German association of contractors.

The carefully worded statement spoke of a shaky situation with hopes for better times.

“In spite of the not exactly promising overall economic circumstances in autumn 2001, the results of the latest representative survey of refrigeration and air conditioning firms shows a positive tendency,” was a key finding in the report.

The survey showed about 40% of its contractor members expected growth in 2001, while 25% expected things to stay the same as the previous year. Left unstated were the up to 35% who seemed to be expecting a downturn.

“Broken down into individual segments, growth is expected for air conditioning, ventilation, and transport with a slight decline estimated for commercial and industrial refrigeration,” stated the report. Overall, the report said, “The 1,200 firms (contracting companies) of VDKF, with their 16,000 employees represent about 80% of the (hvacr) business in Germany.”

Germany has 23.4% of the European market, with France at 16.2%, followed by Italy.



ON THE FLOOR

Talk on the exhibit floor at IKK often generated to hanging on until the situation turns around. One booth staffer reasoned that a slowdown in production will drain pipelines of product, and those pipelines will need to eventually be refilled.

It was business pretty much as usual at the expo. Rudolf Putz, General Manager of VDKF, sponsoring organization for IKK, said there were more than 800 exhibitors, a record number. Attendance, which normally hovers around 20,000, experienced a “moderate downturn because of the current political situation,” he said.



U.S. Presence

The U.S. pavilion section in one of the exhibit halls played home to a couple dozen stateside exhibitors. (The rest of the U.S. manufacturers were scattered throughout the complex, often in the guise of their European offices or manufacturing facilities.)

Within the U.S. area, there was a representative from the Munich-based American Consulate General’s Office offering a U.S. Department of Commerce electronic marketplace called BuyUSA.com. The program helps business find “international partners and complete the export transaction, as well as access to local trade experts for additional export counseling.”

A number of persons on the show floor were also trying to gauge the psyche of U.S. visitors. Attendees from such countries as Germany, Italy, and England also spoke of the devastation experienced by their countries in past wars.

In fact, the host city of Hannover was extensively damaged during World War II to such an extent that few of its truly historic buildings survived. In fact, a 14th century church in the downtown area does still stand but with the scars of World War II bombing unaltered, to remind citizens of a city than has done much rebuilding over the past six decades.

publication date: 11/05/2001

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