Trailer registrations and production in Europe are expected to increase slightly, according to a forecast for heavy goods vehicle trailers by consulting group G Beecroft/CLEAR. The registration total should rise by 2% when all 15 West European countries are factored in.For the seven principal markets in Europe, 2004 will be the fourth consecutive year of decline, but at only 0.2% down, the market has bottomed out. Of the larger markets, France, Italy Germany and Spain are all expected to register declines in 2004.“In 2003, most European markets had their lowest GDP growth rates since 1993," Gary Beecroft said. "To compound the problem, replacement demand was weak due to the low level of new trailers registered during the recession of ten years ago. The economic climate will improve in 2004 leading to solid growth in the trailer market in 2005.”Trailer production will rise about 3% in 2004 (from 162,000 to 167,000), with exports to countries outside of Western Europe accounting for over 20,000 units.Trailer markets have changed drastically since the 1990s when they were essentially national in character. Trailers tended to be bought locally, but there is now significant import/export trade, alongside international manufacturing groups. In particular, the German groups, Schmitz, Krone and Kögel have expanded their sales operations to both the east and west. However, in France, the market leader General Trailers went into administration.