Letter IEDI n. 1070—World industry reation to COVID-19 crisis
As observed throughout the year, the picture of the world industry in 2020 was strongly contractionary. The latest UNIDO report, recently released, indicates a 4.1% drop in manufacturing output worldwide.
The 4th quarter/20, however, contributed for the loss not being even higher, registering an increase of 3.9% compared to the previous quarter, seasonally adjusted, and 2.4% in relation to the 4th quarter/19. Greater dynamism came from more technology-intensive branches, according to UNIDO.
These results were a continuation of the first signs of recovery registered in Q3/20 and were driven by the performance of developing economies. The industrialized countries, experiencing a new wave of contamination by COVID-19 from Oct/20, lost dynamism and remained below the production level of late 2019. This suggests the industrial reaction is still vulnerable in relation to the evolution of the pandemic.
The expansion of manufacturing in industrialized nations decreased from 12.6% in Q3/20 to 3.4% in Q4/20 in comparison with the previous period, with the year-on-year figure one more time in the red: -1.6% in Q4/20 versus the same quarter of 2019.
This performance was due to almost all groups of industrialized countries: in North America there was a 3.1% drop and European countries fell by 1.3%. The developed countries of Asia, on the other hand, were basically flat, registering a variation of only 0.1%.
Emerging and developing economies (except China), in turn, recorded growth of 5.7% in relation to the immediately previous quarter and 1.0% compared to the same period in 2019. In this last comparison, it was the first positive rate after the COVID-19 shock.
In this group of countries, Latin America managed to grow 5.7% compared to the previous quarter and 2.2% in relation to the 4th quarter/19. Much of this was mainly due to the results of the industries in Argentina (+2.2%) and Brazil (+5.2%), while the Mexican industry registered a drop of 0.5%.
China, the country most affected by COVID-19 in early 2020, with a drop of 13.9% in its industrial production in Q1/20 compared to Q1/19, recovered more quickly than the rest of the world by showing greater effectiveness in containing the outbreak. In Q4/20, its industry grew 9.4% compared to the same period of the previous year, closing 2020 with an increase of 1.3%.
Based on industry data for a group of 42 countries, the IEDI developed an international ranking of industrial output growth in 2020. In this ranking, Brazil occupied an intermediate position, ranking 21st, with a 4.7% decrease.
Even with the negative result, the Brazilian industry was ahead of countries such as the USA (-6.6%), Spain (-9.6%), Japan (-9.7%), France (-10.3%), Germany (-10.6%) and Italy (-11.0%). It is worth remembering, however, that in the case of Brazil the deterioration of the health situation started to occur now in 2021, while in industrialized countries, as mentioned earlier, it began in 2020. This could cause us to move down some steps in the ranking in the coming months.