Green Transition drives Global sales of Switchboards

Which are the most driving international markets in 2023? Which are the best performing competitor countries?


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As documented in a recent ExportPlanning article "First signs of the start of an energy transition path at global level", the electrical engineering industry1 is among the few in a positive countertrend in the analysis of world trade in the first half of the year.
In particular, within this industry, some sectors (electric switchboards, electric motors, generators and transformers and electricity distribution and control equipment: see the related in-depth analysis) - with a prominent role in the global process of ecological transition - are experiencing particularly favorable performances. As documented in that piece of analysis, in the first half of the year the aforementioned sectors showed double-digit growth trends in world exports, measured at constant prices (ie net of inflation and currency phenomena).

Switchboards the most dynamic sector in terms of global trade within the electrical engineering industry...

Electric switchboards: driving sector of the electrical engineering industry

Within the electrical engineering industry, the electric switchboards2 sector showed growth performance more favourable in world exports both in the most recent period and in the medium term.

In the first half of 2023 world exports of electric switchboards, measured at constant prices, grew by almost 18 percentage points compared to the corresponding period of 2022, decidedly more dynamic than all other electrotechnical products as a whole (+2.9%).

Even from a medium-term perspective, the electric switchboards sector was the most dynamic by far in terms of world trade within the electrotechnical industry: world exports cumulative annual figures for the last four quarters, measured at constant prices, are, compared with those of 2019 (last pre-pandemic period), +25% higher for the electric switchboards sector, compared to +15.2% for all other electrotechnical products.
In particular, as the graph below shows, world exports of electric switchboards have in growth trend in euro values for eleven quarters consecutive and - more generally -, excluding the two quarters attributable to the "Great Lockdown", in a positive trend in the experience of the last twelve years.

..also driven by the positive effects
of the ongoing energy transition.

The evolution of the electric switchboards sector appears to be strongly influenced by the so-called "energy transition", as it plays a fundamental role as it is responsible for the management, control and protection of electrical networks.

In the energy transition, the management and control of electricity become, in fact, even more crucial to guarantee an efficient and sustainable use of energy resources. There are several types of switchboards that are important in this context, each with its own applications and functions3.

Main worldwide markets of electric switchboards

In the first half of 2023 almost 70% of international markets showed positive dynamics in the measurement at constant prices of world exports to them intended of electric switchboards; this percentage rises over 70% in the measurement in euro values.

In the second half of the year, according to ExportPlanning4 pre-estimates, a slowdown in the growth of world exports of the sector in euro values is expected (with a trend increase of +8.4% in the second half of the year), bringing the share of world markets growing at the end of the year to 61 percent.
In particular, the analysis of the top 20 world markets by value of imports in 2023 highlights the following driving markets at the end of the year: above all Germany (+21.4% in euro compared to 2022, corresponding to an average annual increase of 1851 million euro, continuing the strong expansion phase of recent years ) and United States (+11.6%, corresponding to an overall increase of 1805 million euros compared to 2022).
Behind them - for absolute increases in the 2023 average in imported values - the markets of France stand out (+37.1%, equal to an increase of 706 million euros), United Kingdom (+21.4%, equal to an increase of 501 million euros), Netherlands (+26.8%, equal to an increase of 437 million euros), Rep-Czech (+25.1%, equal to +395 million euros), Belgium (+38%, corresponding to +363 million euros) and Spain (+26.2%, equal to an increase of 295 million euros).

Imports from the world of electric switchboards
Levels (Bn €) % Changes
Market 2019 2023E 2022/2019 2023E/2022
United States 11.9 17.4 +30.9 +11.6
Germany 6.8 10.5 +26.9 +21.4
China 5.0 6.0 +15.5 + 2.7
United Kingdom 1.6 2.8 +48.6 +21.4
France 1.5 2.6 +26.6 +37.1
Netherlands 1.1 2.1 +43.4 +26.8
Thailand 1.3 2.1 +51.9 + 2.9
Canada 1.6 2.0 +16.6 + 8.9
Mexico 1.6 2.0 +29.8 - 5.4
Czech Republic 1.2 2.0 +33.8 +25.1
Italy 1.1 2.0 +64.5 +12.3
Japan 1.1 1.7 +30.5 +18.0
Singapore 1.2 1.7 +31.3 + 6.2
Korea 1.3 1.7 +27.4 - 0.3
Turkey 0.9 1.6 +47.6 +18.3
Poland 0.9 1.4 +45.1 + 8.4
Spain 0.9 1.4 +19.5 +26.2
Hong Kong 0.8 1.3 +85.6 - 5.0
Belgium 0.8 1.3 +19.4 +38.0
Taiwan 0.9 1.3 +31.6 + 8.5
Source: ExportPlanning-Market Insights

In a context of almost generalized growth, among the top 20 markets by importance of electrical panel imports in 2023, only two (Mexico and Hong Kong) are expected to show at the end of the year some drops (however rather limited) in the values in euro, after particularly intense growth in the three-year period 2020-2022. In particular, imports from the Mexican market - thanks to an estimated reduction of 5.4 percentage points on average for the year - are expected to fall by 113 million euros this year; those of Hong Kong, on the other hand, by 70 million euros (-5%).

Main competitor countries of electric switchboards

In the first half of 2023 almost 85% of global competitor countries in the sector showed positive dynamics in the measurement at constant prices of own exports (and almost 86% when measured in euro values).

In the second half of the year, against a lower dynamism in world demand for the sector (+8.4% on a trend basis, against +19.7% in the first half), the share of competitor countries grew at the end of the year it is expected to drop to 55 percent.
The analysis of the main competitor countries of electric switchboards by value of exports in 2023 (according to ExportPlanning pre-estimates) reports the following competitor countries with the greatest growth at the end of the year in absolute values: above all Germany (+22.8% in euro compared to 2022, corresponding to an overall increase of well 2.9 billion euros, strengthening its export leadership in the sector), China (+9.6%, corresponding to an overall increase of 1.2 billion euro compared to 2022) and United States (+17.8%, equal to an increase of 1.1 billion euro).
Behind them, we note the expected increases in sectoral exports of Mexico (+13.1%, equal to an increase of 819 million euros), Romania (+22%, equal to an increase of 671 million euros), Netherlands (+35.9% compared to 2022, equal to an increase of 574 million euros) and Poland (+22.8% compared to 2022, equal to an increase of 400 million euros).

Exports to the world of electrical switchboards
Levels (Bn €) % Changes
Competitor 2019 2023E 2022/2019 2023E/2022
Germany 12.4 15.4 + 1.0 +22.8
China 8.5 13.4 +43.4 + 9.6
Mexico 4.1 7.1 +51.1 +13.1
United States 5.3 7.1 +12.3 +17.8
Romania 2.2 3.7 +39.5 +22.0
Japan 2.5 2.9 +21.4 - 5.1
Thailand 1.5 2.3 +54.1 - 1.9
Hungary 2.2 2.3 - 7.6 +16.0
Netherlands 1.1 2.2 +46.8 +35.9
Poland 1.2 2.2 +43.5 +22.8
Czech Republic 1.4 2.1 +24.4 +19.3
France 1.6 2.1 +12.5 +14.6
United Kingdom 1.3 1.7 +32.2 + 1.8
Korea 1.6 1.7 - 6.5 +15.3
Canada 0.9 1.7 +58.8 +14.0
Malaysia 1.2 1.5 +24.2 - 1.1
Italy 0.9 1.4 +36.0 +15.9
Singapore 1.3 1.4 - 0.5 + 7.4
Vietnam 0.6 1.3 +87.8 + 6.1
Austria 0.7 1.2 +42.3 +14.6
Source: ExportPlanning-Market Insights

In a competitive sectoral context marked by widespread growth in almost all the main competitor countries, we note the average annual decline (moreover relatively limited: -5.1%) estimated at the end of the year for Japan (-157 million euros compared to 2022).


The electric switchboards sector represents a case of excellence: it is the most dynamic sector of the electrotechnical industry in terms of world exports at constant prices both in the most recent period and in a medium-term perspective.

The ExportPlanning calculations for the second half of the current year report only a moderate slowdown for world exports in the sector, confirming at the end of the year a significant growth result (with double-digit increases % both in euro values and at constant prices).
However, in 2023, rather differentiated performances are estimated both at international market level and as regards the main competitor countries in the sector.

The need for exporting companies to monitor
the performance of markets and competitor countries
for their specific business area

For exporting companies in the sector, it therefore appears strategic to be able to appropriately evaluate their own performance, based on the estimated results for the various competing countries present in the international arena, and to identify the international markets with the greatest growth potential, on which to focus its marketing and business development.

As already reported, ExportPlanning provides Market Insights, a new series of information services aimed at specifically supporting the market intelligence and budgeting processes of exporting companies.

1) For a description of the sectors included therein, see the related industry profile.
2) For a description of the products included therein, see the related sector profile.
3) Below are some of the most relevant types of electric switchboards:
  • distribution switchboards: these electric switchboards are used to distribute electricity in a safe and controlled manner in a building or industrial facility. Contain protective devices, such as circuit breakers, fuses, and differential protection devices, to prevent overloads and short circuits;
  • control switchboards: these switchboards are designed to manage and control the automation of industrial processes or plants. They may contain PLCs (programmable logic controllers), human machine interface (HMI) devices, sensors, and actuators to monitor and regulate operations.
  • solar energy switchboards: in photovoltaic installations, control switchboards are used to monitor and manage the energy produced by the solar panels. These switchboards often include solar inverters to convert DC power into usable AC power;
  • electric vehicle switchboards: as the adoption of electric vehicles increases, there are specific switchboards for charging electric vehicles in domestic, commercial and public settings. These switchboards include safety devices and meters for electric recharging;
  • energy management switchboards: these switchboards are used to monitor and manage energy consumption in buildings, industrial plants or electrical networks. They may include energy metering and monitoring systems, demand response devices and intelligent control systems to optimize energy use;
  • renewable energy distribution switchboards: in renewable energy systems, such as wind farms or solar power plants, specially designed distribution switchboards are used to distribute the energy generated on the grid or for the local use;
  • energy storage switchboards: in energy storage systems, such as batteries or thermal storage systems, there are electrical panels to manage the charging and discharging of the batteries or to regulate the thermal accumulation processes;
  • smart electrical distribution switchboards: in the intelligent power grids (smart grids), advanced switchboards are used which enable more efficient and flexible energy management, including bi-directional distribution, peak demand management and renewable energy integration.
4) The 2023 pre-estimate is performed using suitable nowcasting techniques, which allow for the elaboration of estimates on the evolution of trade flows. To do this, the technique put in place by the ExportPlanning experience is that of the 12-term product-specific and country-specific ARIMA forecasting models, detailed at 6-digit Harmonized System product code and declaring country, which make it possible to make very reliable short-term forecasts, based on a historical series already acquired for the first part of the year in course.