Manufacturing - RH Nuttall Ltd

After our months of celebrating the UK manufacturing sector on a small scale with the UK Manufacturing Awards, we thought we would turn our attentions in the opposite direction, and take in the bigger picture.

You’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that UK manufacturing is on the decline. But this story of manufacturing reduction isn’t just true of this country – more and more, the large economic powers of the world are starting to rely on the service industry for the majority of their GDP. Manufacturing is still ahead of the agriculture by and large, an industry even more in decline than manufacturing. But is it all really doom and gloom? Here are some stats to ponder.

Agriculture / Industrial / Service split

Below are two tables showing the top 10 biggest economies in the world (according to the International Monetary Fund), and how their GDP balances out between these three sectors.

Number Country GDP (In $ Million)
1 USA USA 18,124,731
2 China China 11,211,928
3 Japan Japan 4,210,363
4 Germany Germany 3,413,483
5 UK  UK 2,853,357
6 France France 2,469,530
7 India India 2,308,018
8 Brazil Brazil 1,903,934
9 Italy Italy 1,842,835
10 Canada Canada 1,615,471


Country Agriculture Industrial Service
USA USA 1.2% 19.2% 79.6%
China China 10.1% 46.8% 43.1%
Japan Japan 1.2% 27.3% 71.5%
Germany Germany 0.8% 28.6% 70.6%
UK UK 0.7% 21.4% 77.8%
France France 1.8% 18.8% 79.4%
India India 17.2% 26.4% 56.4%
Brazil Brazil 5.5% 27.5% 67%
Italy Italy 2% 24.7% 73.3%
Canada Canada 1.9% 27.1% 71%


Manufacturing Only

So, as you can see, only China has an industrial sector that contributes more than their service sector. This may have something to do with China’s ever rising prominence in world economics. So, lets break down how these top 10 economic powers would stack up when we compare their manufacturing/industrial sectors.


Number Country Industrial GDP (In $ Million)
1 China China 5,247,182
2 USAUSA 3,479,948
3 Japan Japan 1,149,429
4 Germany Germany 976,256
5 UK UK 610,618
6 India India 609,316
7 Brazil Brazil 523,581
8 France France 464,271
9 Italy Italy 455,180
10 Canada Canada 437,792


UK Manufacturing vs. Other Countries

So despite being “in decline”, the UK still has one of the top 5 biggest manufacturing economies in the world, and the second largest in Europe by some margin over France. Are you starting to see why this doom and gloom doesn’t always add up?

At this point, let’s treat the UK manufacturing sector as if it is it’s own country. Where would we stack up then? Well according to the International Monetary Fund, we are much higher than you would think.

Number Country GPD (in $ Million)
20 Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 648,971
21 UK UK 610,618
22 Argentina Argentina 563,138


If it were to somehow go independent, the UK manufacturing sector would be the 21st biggest economic power in the world, sitting between Saudi Arabia and Argentina’s total GDP from agriculture, industrial and services. Here are just some of the countries it would bring in more money than:

  • Sweden Sweden
  • Poland Poland
  • Belgium Belgium
  • Norway Norway
  • United Arab Emirates UAE
  • South Africa South Africa

One last reassuring piece of information. On the map below, you could add up all of the red shaded countries total GDP, and it wouldn’t meet the GDP generated by the UK manufacturing sector! It represents 81 countries!