Manufacturing growth “slowest in three years”
World manufacturing growth slowed in the third quarter of 2012, with industrial output up by only 2.2% – the smallest increase since 2009, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
In the latest of its regular quarterly reports, UNIDO said new setbacks, most notably the deepening eurozone crisis, had “dimmed the prospects of a global manufacturing recovery”.
In global terms, textile production bucked the general trend, with output rising 5.8% on the same period last year, thanks to a 5.9% rise in developing countries, partly offset by a 6.3% decline in the industrialised nations.
But output was only 2.8% higher than in the second quarter of this year, made up of rises of 3.1% and 1.1% for developing and industralised countries respectively.
Apparel and fur output was more in line with the global manufacturing trend, rising 2.9% year-on-year, but falling 1.8% compared to the second quarter.
In general, apparel manufacturing rose in developing countries but fell in industrialised nations, broadly in line with the trends observed in textiles.
Production of leather, leather products and footwear was decidedly sluggish in the third quarter, rising only 0.9% on last year and falling 2.7% when compared to the second quarter.
The impact of the recession and falling demand from industrialised nations led to a fall in production of apparel and leather goods in developing countries compared to the second quarter, UNIDO said, detailing garment production declines in Brazil, China, Egypt and Malaysia.
UNIDO said that, following a first half of the year characterised by dynamic growth in North America, East Asia and developing countries but uncertainty in Europe, the third quarter had seen a stronger recession in Europe, a weakened recovery in North America and East Asia, plus a sustained slowdown in developing countries.
This is most obviously illustrated by a decrease in industrial production among industrialised countries for the first time since 2009, with UNIDO estimates suggesting output declines of 1.7% in Germany, 6.2% in Italy, 1.9% in France and 0.9% in the UK.
Among the few countries in the region exhibiting growth were Austria, Malta and Slovakia, the organisation added.
Beyond the EU, Japan’s industrial output fell 4.6% in the third quarter, but the US was up 4.1% and the Russian Federation edged up 0.3%.
UNIDO reported that, while the rate of industrial growth among developing nations remained high, it was impacted by global economic contraction – rising 6.6% compared to last year, but falling by 2.3% on the second quarter figures.
Headline figures included a 9.2% rise in output from China, and increases of 4.1% and 3.3% for Mexico and Turkey respectively, but India edged up by only 0.2% and Latin American countries – most notably Brazil – fell back.
Based on limited data, UNIDO estimates that African countries boosted production by 2.6%, but the picture was complicated: South Africa increased output by 2.9%, but Egypt declined by 5.9%.
Developing countries out-performed industrialised nations in all manufacturing sectors, as the advantage that developed nations previously enjoyed with respect to high-tech industry diminished thanks to the ongoing economic uncertainty, UNIDO added.
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