Manufacturing: how do the countries compare?

Businesses around the globe are heavily dependent on manufacturing — but which countries have the highest manufacturing output? Datawright, provider of process manufacturing software, has analysed manufacturing on a global scale.

The UK

Despite the country’s smaller size, UK manufacturing alone contributes £6.7 trillion to the global economy. A House of Commons briefing paper containing the most up-to-date manufacturing data shows that the UK had the 9th highest manufacturing output globally. 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.

Worth $247 billion in 2014, the UK’s manufacturing output equals $3,800 per head when broken down. However, the per-head figure does not provide an accurate point of comparison due to populations varying between countries.

11% the UK’s national economic output was from manufacturing, totalling 3% of global manufacturing.


China’s output was worth a total of $1.9 trillion — the highest of all countries in 2014. 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.

China’s large population of around 1.37 billion has caused a manufacturing output per head figure of $1,400, considerably less than the UK’s.

United States

The United States’ manufacturing output stood at $1.8 trillion, the second highest behind China only. 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 US and China’s manufacturing output both make up 19% of world manufacturing. Despite this, 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 just over $1 trillion, Japan’s manufacturing output places them in third place. 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.


Fourth place goes to Germany. 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.

$8,400 is Germany’s per-head total. Overall, manufacturing makes up 23% of Germany’s national output and 7% of the global total.

Smaller countries & manufacturing

Smaller countries have a large dependency on manufacturing. For example, Turkmenistan and Nauru national outputs stand at 38% and 37% respectively, illustrating how dependent developing economies are on manufacturing.