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China is the largest market for robots in the world right now, ABB CEO says

  • ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer told CNBC China "is the largest robotics market of the world"
  • He said this was the case in 2016 and 2017, and was likely to continue next year
  • But Spiesshofer added that China was not alone in its interest in being a leader in robotics

China is dominating the robotics market, according to the chief executive of Swedish-Swiss automation giant ABB.

Ulrich Spiesshofer said Thursday that the Asian powerhouse is "the largest robotics market of the world," and that this would likely continue to be the case next year.

"ABB is clearly the number one in China. Our long-term investment that started more than a decade ago in China is paying off," he said.

Beijing has made robot manufacturing a clear policy priority.

In 2015, the government announced its Made in China 2025 intitiatve, aimed at boosting development in high-tech. It then introduced a Robotics Industry Development Plan, a five-year program to rapidly grow its industrial robotics sector.

Other robotics hotspots

ABB's Spiesshofer added that China was not alone in its interest in being a leader in robotics.

"The robotics market is solid, I can tell you all around the world there's tremendous opportunity out there," Spiesshofer said.

The CEO added that the firm's investment in the U.S. robot market was now coming to fruition.

"You look forward to America, our investment in robotics activity there, we are the only ones that are producing robots at scale in the U.S., it's paying off."

Europe is another market that is pushing to improve its robotics market, Spiesshofer said. "It's a pretty broad-based and well-balanced market that gives us tremendous opportunity going forward."

ABB posted its third-quarter earnings Thursday, one of many corporates to do so. The company's sales reached $8.7 billion, surpassing expectations.