Executive Briefings

China's Ascent to Become World's Largest Manufacturer Achieved Quickly, But in Making for Decades

China became the largest manufacturing economy in the world (with a 23.2 percent share of manufacturing activity) through extremely fast growth in the physical volume of value-added and modest inflation. The U.S. is in second place with a 17.2 percent share. China has more than four times the population of the United States, and though its manufacturing intensity of $1,978 per capita value-added in 2013 is high for a developing economy, it is well behind advanced countries such as the United States ($6,338).

China's Ascent to Become World's Largest Manufacturer Achieved Quickly, But in Making for Decades

China displaced the United States as the largest manufacturing nation in 2010 and widened its lead in 2013, according to recently published data from the United Nations. Manufacturing value-added in China totaled $2.74tr in 2013 compared with $2.03tr for the United States. China's 2013 share of 23.2 percent of world manufacturing was up from 18.9 percent in 2010; the U.S. share declined from 18.1 percent in 2010 to 17.2 percent in 2013.

China's ascent in manufacturing importance has been in the making for decades. China rose from 4th in 1993 to 3rd in 2003 before taking 1st in 2013. Several other emerging economies rose in the ranks; Korea jumped from 10th to 8th to 5th over the same period. From just 2003 to 2013, India rose from 14th to 11th, Russia rose from 18th to 8th, and Indonesia rose from 19th to 13th.

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China displaced the United States as the largest manufacturing nation in 2010 and widened its lead in 2013, according to recently published data from the United Nations. Manufacturing value-added in China totaled $2.74tr in 2013 compared with $2.03tr for the United States. China's 2013 share of 23.2 percent of world manufacturing was up from 18.9 percent in 2010; the U.S. share declined from 18.1 percent in 2010 to 17.2 percent in 2013.

China's ascent in manufacturing importance has been in the making for decades. China rose from 4th in 1993 to 3rd in 2003 before taking 1st in 2013. Several other emerging economies rose in the ranks; Korea jumped from 10th to 8th to 5th over the same period. From just 2003 to 2013, India rose from 14th to 11th, Russia rose from 18th to 8th, and Indonesia rose from 19th to 13th.

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China's Ascent to Become World's Largest Manufacturer Achieved Quickly, But in Making for Decades