China Is the World’s Largest Manufacturer, and by an Increasing Margin

Thursday, February 7, 2013

China has the largest manufacturing economy in the world, and it widened its lead over the United States in 2011. At its pace of growth over the decade ending in 2011, China’s manufacturing value-added measured in dollars doubled every four years. When making country comparisons, however, population size makes a difference; China has four times as many people as the United States. When manufacturing value-added is normalized into a per capita metric, China’s rank among global manufacturers falls to 11th.

The Chinese growth model has demonstrated an incredible ability to grow the physical volume of manufacturing very rapidly and the country is manufacturing-intensive. China leads the top 15 manufacturing countries when measuring the sector’s share of the economy. Past exceptional growth in China is no guarantee of future success, though—the nation’s growth strategy has created many structural imbalances, and significant reforms are needed, including less reliance on export-oriented manufacturing.

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