Outlook for Key Customer Industries

  • Recovery expected in the automotive industry and for consumer goods

Overall, we anticipate 4.4% (2020: –4.0%) growth in global industrial production. Growth in advanced economies (2021: +3.1%; 2020: –6.5%) is likely to be weaker than growth in emerging markets (2021: +5.5%; 2020: –1.8%).

We are forecasting a considerable recovery in the transportation industry1 as a whole after the sharp decline in the previous year. We expect global automotive production to grow significantly. In China, we anticipate moderate growth momentum in 2021 following the rapid recovery in 2020. By contrast, we expect stronger recovery effects in western and eastern Europe as well as in North America, India and Japan. The percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles should continue to rise due to buying incentives, vehicle tax rebates and the expansion of the charging infrastructure.

In the energy and raw materials sector, we expect moderate overall growth in energy demand and demand for industrial raw materials. Production growth should only be small in advanced economies. In the emerging markets by contrast, we are forecasting considerable growth. Approximately half of total global growth is expected to be in Asia.

Production in the construction industry will presumably grow moderately in 2021. We anticipate low growth rates in commercial construction but higher growth in housing construction and in the infrastructure segment. While the construction business in Europe is likely to grow moderately, we only foresee a slight increase in the United States. This is because of small base effects after the upswing in the housing market in the previous year and government spending on construction, which is only likely to benefit from the economic stimulus packages after a delay. By contrast, we expect considerably higher growth rates in Asia.

Due to recovery effects, overall production of consumer goods, primarily textiles and consumer durables, will foreseeably grow at a somewhat higher rate than global GDP. Production of care products, by contrast, will grow approximately in line with the gross domestic product.

The electronics industry should benefit from the ongoing digitalization trend, more frequent use of electronic parts in the automotive industry and the advancement of connectivity and automation. We therefore continue to expect above-average growth.

In line with overall economic recovery, the health and nutrition sector should grow markedly in the year to come. We expect above-average growth in the pharmaceutical industry, which will be favorably affected by global vaccine activities. Expansion in the nutrition sector should almost equal that of the global economy.

Under normal weather conditions, agricultural production will presumably see similar growth in 2021 to the past few years. In Europe, we expect a slight increase in agricultural production given the low basis for comparison. In the United States, the trade agreement with China is likely to boost agricultural exports again in 2021, and similarly high growth rates are expected to those of 2020. In Brazil, economic recovery and the considerable currency devaluation should be favorable to the sales volumes of agricultural products. For this reason, higher growth in sales volumes can be expected. In Asia, which is by far the largest agricultural market because of the size of its population, we expect solid growth in agricultural production.

1 The transportation industry includes the production of motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and the construction of other vehicles (especially ships and boats, trains, air and spacecraft, and two-wheelers).