While China’s status as the world’s largest manufacturing hub seems to be a given these days, that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, as recently as 2009, the U.S. trumped China in manufacturing output as measured by total value added in the sector.
As the following chart shows, China’s share of global manufacturing output climbed from 8.7 percent in 2004 to 28.4 percent in 2018. That’s according to the United Nations Statistics Division, which reports that the U.S. share of global manufacturing value added declined from 22.3 percent to 16.6 percent over the same period.
China’s current status as a manufacturing stronghold in a globalized world is one of the reasons why the economic fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will be felt across the globe. Many of the world’s largest consumer brands are relying on Chinese manufacturing and are currently facing possible supply constraints due to shutdowns across the country.