How Does Manufacturing Differ By Country?

Global business would struggle with manufacturing. To put this into perspective, the UK’s manufacturing alone contributes £6.7 trillion to the global economy — impressive stats for a country that is dwarfed in size by other nations.Manufacturing Differ By Country

Process manufacturing software provider, Datawright, compares the UK’s productivity against the rest of the world’s manufacturing outputs:

The UK

Despite the size, the UK has the 9th highest manufacturing output globally according to a House of Commons briefing paper, which looked at the most recent manufacturing data. While ranking 9th out of 237 countries is still a strong position to be in, it still shows a decrease from previous years. Between 1970 and 2004, the UK’s rank generally stayed around 5th and 6th position.

On a head-by-head basis, the UK’s manufacturing output was worth $3,800 in 2014 – this equates to a total of $247 billion. However, the per-head figure does not provide an accurate point of comparison due to populations varying between countries. In total, manufacturing accounted for 11% of the UK’s national economic output, and 3% of global manufacturing.

China: The Highest Manufacturing Output

In comparison to the UK, in 2014, China had the highest manufacturing output of all countries, worth a total of $1.9 trillion. Eclipsing the UK’s humble 11%, manufacturing makes up 28% of the country’s entire national output. On a global scale, this contributes 19% — almost one fifth — to world manufacturing.

Despite the largest output, because of China’s large population – approximately 1.37 billion – the manufacturing output per head is significantly lower than the UK, standing at $1,400.

United States of America

The USA isn’t far behind China, with the second highest manufacturing output with $1.8 trillion, just 0.1 trillion short of China’s $1.9 trillion figure. However, despite the similarities between these totals, the United States output-per-head breakdown is significantly higher at $5,700 — a result of America’s smaller population size.

The USA and China differ when it comes down to each country’s national output. Despite occupying the same percentage of world manufacturing as China (19%), manufacturing makes up just 12% of the USA’s national output. Whereas China’s output was more than double at 28%, this stark difference shows how manufacturing is less of a priority to the United States’ economy.


With a manufacturing output of just over $1 trillion, Japan is in third place in the manufacturing output league table. Per head, this equates to $7,900. In total, Japan’s manufacturing efforts make up 19% of the country’s national output, and 10% of the worldwide output.


At fourth place is Germany for manufacturing output rankings. Despite being significantly ahead of fifth place company South Korea, Germany is considerably behind Japan in terms of manufacturing output. Compared to Japan’s $1 trillion, Germany’s manufacturing output is more than $300 billion less, at $680 billion.

On a head-by-head basis, this works out at $8,400. Overall, manufacturing makes up 23% of Germany’s national output and 7% of the global total.

Smaller Countries, Bigger Output?

Despite the top spots being taken by some of the world’s largest countries, it seems that the smaller regions are often heavily reliant on manufacturing. For example, Turkmenistan and Nauru’s national outputs stand at 38% and 37%, respectively, illustrating how dependent developing economies are on manufacturing.