The largest manufacturing countries are China, USA, Japan and then Germany. These 4 are far in the lead, and very firmly in their positions. Only the USA and China are close, and the momentum of China is likely moving it quickly ahead – even with their current struggles.
The chart below shows manufacturing production by country as a percent of GDP of the 10 countries that manufacture the most. China has over 30% of the GDP from manufacturing, though the GDP share fell dramatically from 2005 and is solidly in the lead.
Nearly every country is decreasing the percentage of their economic output from manufacturing. Korea is the only exception, in this group. I would expect Korea to start following the general trend. Also China has reduced less than others, I expect China will also move toward the trend shown by the others (from 2005 to 2010 they certainly did).
For the 10 largest manufacturing countries in 2010, the overall manufacturing GDP percentage was 24.9% of GDP in 1980 and dropped to 17.7% in 2010. The point often missed by those looking at their country is most of these countries are growing manufacturing, they are just growing the rest of their economy more rapidly. It isn’t accurate to see this as a decline of manufacturing. It is manufacturing growing more slowly than (information technology, health care, etc.).
The manufacturing share of the USA economy dropped from 21% in 1980 to 18% in 1990, 15% in 2000 and 13% in 2010. Still, as previous posts show, the USA manufacturing output has grown substantially: over 300% since 1980, and 175% since 1990. The proportion of manufacturing output by the USA (for the top 10 manufacturers) has declined from 33% in 1980, 32% in 1990, 35% in 2000 to 26% in 2010. If you exclude China, the USA was 36% of the manufacturing output of these 10 countries in 1980 and 36% in 2010. China’s share grew from 7.5% to 27% during that period.
The United Kingdom has seen manufacturing fall all the way to 10% of GDP, manufacturing little more than they did 15 years ago. Japan is the only other country growing manufacturing so slowly (but Japan has one of the highest proportion of GDP from manufacturing – at 20%). Japan manufactures very well actually, the costs are very high and so they have challenges but they have continued to manufacture quite a bit, even if they are not growing output much.
India’s manufacturing output as a percent of GDP bounces around a bit this is largely because they were such a small manufacturer (and the rapid and somewhat chaotic growth of their economy in general). India’s economy benefited greatly from information technology and call center jobs for economic growth. Very few other emerging economies have had alternatives to manufacturing to grow their economies quickly.
India still is manufacturing far below their potential for several reasons: poor infrastructure, incredibly poorly functioning bureaucracy standing in the way of manufacturing business opportunities and corruption. Without addressing these issues much more successfully it is hard for me to believe they will become a serious manufacturer (even with huge amounts of available labor and a very large domestic market).
India has been trying to grow their manufacturing output, and has done so in the last 10 years. I do think India can move ahead of England and France but, India’s manufacturing output could also easily be overtaken by Indonesia, Mexico, and others, if they don’t deal with their systemic weaknesses much more effectively.
Of the top 10 manufacturing countries, those with the largest manufacturing portions of their economies in 2010 were: China 32% and South Korea 27.5%. Globally, while manufacturing has grown, other areas of economic activity have been growing faster than manufacturing.
Related: The Relative Economic Position of the USA is Likely to Decline – Manufacturing Data, Accuracy Questions – Top 12 Manufacturing Countries in 2007 – Manufacturing Employment Data: 1979 to 2007 – USA Manufacturing Output Continues to Increase (over the long term)