Trends in Key Customer Industries

  • Strong decline in global industrial production
  • Weak momentum and partial recovery in the automotive industry
  • Stable trend in agriculture

Global industrial production contracted by 4.0% in 2020 (2019: +1.8). The advanced economies saw much stronger decreases of 6.5% overall compared with the emerging markets, which only declined by 1.8%. The emerging markets performed better primarily due to the recovery of industrial production in China (2020: +2.6%; 2019: +5.7%). In the remaining emerging markets of Asia, by contrast, industrial production fell by 7.1% overall (2019: +2.1%). Industrial production decreased by 7.8% in the E.U. (2019: –0.2%) and by 10.5% in the United Kingdom (2019: –0.4%). North America (2020: –5.7%; 2019: +1.0%) and South America (2020: –7.5%; 2019: –0.6%) reported similar declines.

Global automotive production decreased by 16% after already declining by 5.7% in 2019. After a strong slowdown in China in the first quarter of 2020, followed by massive declines in the rest of the world in the second quarter, the rest of the year saw a dynamic recovery. Growth was particularly strong in China, where automotive production already exceeded the prior-year level in the third quarter. However, average annual production in China was still 4.3% below the previous year. The remaining emerging markets of Asia posted much stronger declines in production of around one-quarter. Japan and South Korea recorded more moderate decreases of 15.8% and 11.6%, respectively. Although North America and Europe also returned to pre-crisis levels over the course of the year, average production for the year was down 20.1% and 22.4% from the previous year, respectively. In the global construction industry, output decreased by 3.3% (2019: +2.4%). Overall, non-residential construction contracted at a slightly stronger rate than the residential and infrastructure segment. Developments varied from region to region: Construction volumes fell by 7.1% in western Europe and by 7.6% in eastern Europe, while North America posted a decrease of 1.3%. The United States saw an upturn in the housing market, which partially offset developments in non-residential building. In Asia, construction activity declined only slightly by 0.6%. Construction activity grew by 3.5% in China, but shrank by 3.1% in Japan, 1.5% in South Korea and 18.7% in India. The construction industry also contracted significantly by 13.2% in South America. Consumer durables production, for example in the textile and furniture industries, fell by almost 8% on average. Production also decreased by around 4% (2019: +1.5%) in the energy and resources sector due to weaker demand for energy and industrial commodities. Agricultural production was more stable and grew by 2.1% (2019: 2.1%). The U.S. market achieved considerable growth of 2.8%, benefiting from rising exports to China and unfavorable weather conditions in parts of South America. In western and eastern Europe, by contrast, production declined by 0.8% overall. This was attributable to both dry weather conditions and regional shortages of harvest workers. In South America, agricultural production declined slightly by 0.5%. Production increased by 1.9% in Brazil but decreased by 8.4% in Argentina due to drought. In Asia, production rose by 2.7% compared with the previous years.

Growth in key customer industries

Real change compared with previous year

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