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14 The PCB Magazine • December 2014 trends in Western Europe (i.e., France, Germa- ny, Italy, Spain and the UK). These show an ini- tial growth surge in Europe at the beginning of 2014, but this was not sustained. Figure 3 shows electronics production growth in the Eastern European countries: Czech Republic, Slovak Re- public, Hungary and Poland. The growth curves are based on data from the national statistics offices. Note: The 6/12 curves are generated by av- eraging the production output values over a six- month period and dividing this by the average value for the six-month period one year preceding. Each point of the curve is centred in the six-month period. This has the advantage of smoothing out the monthly and seasonal variations although the most recent point is always three months in arrears. All points below the 0% line correspond to negative growth compared to the point one year earlier. Depending on the data made available by the various statistics offices, these 6/12 growth curves are based on a computer, electronics and optoelectronics production value data series or on the composite date for computer, communica- tions, instrumentation and consumer electronics production value. As can be seen from Figures 2 and 3, the most recent points on the curves show negative growth in most of these countries. The excep- up against competition from lower-priced Asia suppliers. In the automotive segment, although electronics manufacturing remains in Europe, it has become increasingly hard for the fabricators to compete with Asian prices, and therefore all low-end PCBs are imported with only the high- end and prototype production remaining. One solution for fabricators supplying to this market is to take a partner if they do not already own an offshore facility. The outlook for the European PCB indus- try therefore depends on the health of the Eu- ropean economy, the health of those OEMs that make up their key markets, and whatever value-added and technological advantages the European fabricator can offer to offset against the offshore competition. We start by looking at the current status of electronics production in Europe (which represents the market for both European fabricators and those outside the region). Of total electronics production in Europe, estimated at $223 billion in 2013, the five major economies of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK account for approximately 60% (Germany accounts for 33%). Of the Eastern economies, the largest, the Czech Republic, Slo- vak Republic, Hungary and Poland account for approximately 20%. The 6/12 growth curves of Figure 2 represent the electronics production 2015 OUTLOOk FOR THE PCB INDUSTRy: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIvE continues Figure 2: electronics production growth, 6/12 comparison between France, germany, italy, Spain and the uK.

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