14 March 2011

The Big Picture

The Financial Times reports that China has reassumed its position as the top manufacturing country, measured as proportion of global output.
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.
That said the US remains far more productive:
Mark Killion, IHS’s head of world industry services, said, however, that the findings from the latest data were far from bleak for US manufacturing. “The US has a huge productivity advantage in that it produced only slightly less than China’s manufacturing output in 2010 but with 11.5m workers compared to the 100m employed in the same sector in China.”

Also, Mr Killion pointed out that much of China’s manufacturing output was driven by the Chinese subsidiaries of US companies and was based around US-derived technologies, especially in fields such as electronics.
Keeping score in a complex world is fraught with challenges.