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Machines and systems are the driver of Industry 4.0, reflected in the order books. For Germany’s engineering firms, they are currently so full that the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) has increased its production forecast for the current year to plus 5%. The industry exports over 75% of the goods it produces, with increased export to the USA, the largest single market, expected. However, the effects of a possible trade conflict cannot be estimated, warns VDMA president Carl Martin Welcker . Increased exports to EU partner countries are also expected, whereas exports to China will slow after high growth rates in 2017.

But China is providing cause for concern in another area: According to the 2018 product piracy study conducted by the VDMA and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Security (AISEC) , the People’s Republic has been by far the greatest culprit when it comes piracy for years now. 82% of surveyed companies named China as the point of origin for pirated products. Far behind this are German (19%) and Italian (18%) companies. Overall, the loss for engineering companies is around 7.3 billion euros annually.