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Austrian Manufacturing Technology Firms See Opportunities Ahead in the U.S.

April 16, 2014

Going to America – Comeback Kid U.S. forum draws crowd as Austrian companies explore potential benefits of manufacturing returning to the U.S.

In two day-long seminars held on April 2, 2014 in Vienna and April 3, 2014 in Linz, the theme of seizing opportunities in an emerging renewed manufacturing economy in the U.S. generated strong interest for Austrian firms offering manufacturing and industrial solutions. Much has been written in the U.S. regarding “reshoring”, which is the phenomenon of production returning to the U.S. Whereas reshoring may imply that U.S. firms are coming home after offshoring in Asia, the reality is more nuanced. In this global economy, both domestic and foreign-based international firms are taking advantage of several factors favorable for setting up and maintaining U.S. production. The forum explored U.S. benefits specific to an audience of Austrian industrial machine and plant engineering firms, who already consider the U.S. their largest export market after Germany.

The event was organized by ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA, Export Center Upper Austria and the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna in partnership with the investment agency SelectUSA, the Council of American States in Europe CASE, and the American Chamber of Commerce Austria (AmCham); and cosponsored by Bank Austria and DHL. The forum was co-financed by the “go-international” initiative which encourages Austrian companies to step across the border by offering advisory services, events and support.

The forum was opened by the Honorable Alexa Wesner, the new U.S. Ambassador to Austria, together with Judy Reinke, Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration. The morning session presented an overview of current themes of discussion in the U.S., followed by afternoon meetings which provided the necessary munitions for either starting or expanding business in and with the U.S. 

Relevant data and dynamics about manufacturing returning to the U.S. were presented in the keynote session by Hal Sirkin, Senior Partner & Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group in Chicago. Mr. Sirkin made a compelling case for the favorable impact of low energy prices and high productivity rates in attracting new production to the U.S., most notably in industry sectors such as machinery, transportation, plastics/rubber and fabricated metals. Christian Kesberg, Austrian Trade Commissioner in New York, presented how now is the time for Austrian firms to intensify their U.S. market efforts, as economic indicators in the first half of 2014 are favorable in the world’s largest consumer economy. The forum concluded with a panel discussion of top level Austrian executives sharing their experiences in the US market. The panel consisted of Wolfgang Lakata, VoestAlpine Steel Division; Hannes Hunschofsky, Hoerbiger Holding; Michael Scheuer, Braintribe; Dietmar Bahn, Anger Machining; and Michael Kräftner, Celum and was moderated by Franz Roessler, Austrian Trade Commissioner in Chicago.

Austria has much at stake regarding how things are going for “Kid” U.S.A. After neighboring Germany and Italy, the U.S. is Austria’s most important global trade partner, reaching EUR 7 billion of exports to the U.S. in 2013. Over 500 Austrian-related firms in the U.S. have approximately 25,000 employees. Half of these firms are engaged in the industrial machine/engineering and automotive/transportation sectors. As economic investment and production increases in the U.S., Austrian firms find target opportunities in supplying industrial machines, automation technology and logistics, along with supporting excellence in manufacturing through delivering the benefits of the Austrian vocational training system.  

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