Trends in key customer industries

  • Growth in global industrial production significantly higher than in 2016
  • Mixed trends in key customer sectors

Global industrial production grew by 3.3% in 2017, significantly faster than in the previous year (+2.1%). Growth in the advanced economies accelerated particularly strongly (2017: +2.6%; 2016: +0.8%) and the emerging markets also posted a slight increase (2017: +4.0%; 2016: +3.5%).

The uptick in growth was especially pronounced in the E.U. (2017: +3.3%; 2016: +1.4%) and Japan (2017: +3.9%; 2016: +0.3%). North America saw noticeable growth based on the low prior-year level (2017: +1.6%; 2016: +0.3%). In the emerging markets of Asia, growth in industrial production was down slightly on the previous year, at 5.5% (2016: +5.8%). Industry growth remained stable in China but cooled somewhat in the other countries. At 0.2%, industrial production in South America returned to slow growth (2016: –4.6%).

The chemical industry’s key customer sectors saw very mixed trends: Global automotive production only grew by 2.5% in 2017, considerably less than in the previous year (+4.8%). Growth declined in both China and western Europe; automotive production contracted in the United States. By contrast, the industry experienced an upturn in Japan. Compared with the low prior-year level, production increased significantly in Brazil and Russia. At 2.9%, growth in the construction industry was down only slightly compared with the previous year (+3.1%). The E.U. saw a strong increase in construction activity. Growth in the United States again slowed considerably. Housing construction expanded strongly, while construction of other structures declined slightly. There was a significant decline in infrastructure investment. In Asia, growth in the construction industry was slightly slower but remained at a high level. After weather-related weaknesses in the previous year, agricultural output again rose by around 3.1%. Starting from a low base, South America in particular saw a recovery (2017: +8.8%; 2016: –3.4%).

Growth in key customer industries
(Real change compared with previous year 1)
Growth in key customer industries, Real change compared with previous year (bar chart)

1 Figures that refer to previous years may deviate from last year’s report due to statistical revisions.