China Reclaims Former Perch as World’s Biggest Manufacturer

Research data has found that China’s total manufacturing output last year was greater than that of the United States. From the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development:

According to research from IHS Global Insight first reported on by the Financial Times, the value of China’s output in 2010 was $1.995 trillion, or 19.8 percent of the worldwide total. It edged out the US, which accounted for 19.4 percent, worth about $1.952 trillion.

Based on the same IHS Global Insight data, Agence France Presse reports that between 2008 and 2010, China’s manufacturing sector grew at an annual rate of 20.2 percent, compared to 1.8 percent for the US and 4.25 percent for Japan.

China leads in manufacturing output, but not in productivity. Workers in the US manufacturing sector generated over eight times more value per person than their counterparts in Chinese .

“In other words, the US manufacturing sector is producing roughly the same amount of output in 2010 with 11.5 million workers as opposed to its Chinese counterpart with around 100 million workers,” IHS said, according to AFP.

WTO statistics suggest that China was the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods in 2010, followed by the US and Germany.

China was the world’s largest manufacturer of goods in the 19th century and now returns to that position once again. From the Financial Times:

China has become the world’s top manufacturing country by output, returning the country to the position it occupied in the early 19th century and ending the US’s 110-year run as the largest goods producer.

The change is revealed in a study released on Monday by IHS Global Insight, a US-based economics consultancy, which estimates that China last year accounted for 19.8 per cent of world manufacturing output, fractionally ahead of the US with 19.4 per cent.

The last time China was the world’s biggest goods producer was in about 1850 when the country was close to the end of a long period of population growth and technological ascendancy. Buoyed by the industrial revolution, the UK then became the top maker of factory goods and held this position for almost 50 years, following which the US began a long run as the world’s premier manufacturing nation.

March 16, 2011 6:09 PM
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Categories: Economy