UK Manufacturing Climbs to Eighth in Global Rankings, Overtaking France

by Anna

London, UK – The United Kingdom’s manufacturing sector has ascended one place to claim the eighth spot in the global rankings, surpassing France, according to the latest analysis of official data released by Make UK today.


These findings are part of the recently published annual report, ‘Manufacturing – The Facts,’ which encompasses a wide array of data pertaining to manufacturing’s contributions to the national economy. This comprehensive report delves into exports, sectoral analysis, international comparisons, and wage levels.


The data reveals that in 2021, the UK’s manufacturing output amounted to approximately $272 billion, surpassing France’s $262 billion, but trailing behind Italy’s $314 billion. For context, China maintains its dominance as the world’s largest manufacturing nation with a staggering $4.9 trillion, followed by the United States at $2.5 trillion and Japan at $995 billion. Germany, the fourth-highest globally, remains the largest manufacturing nation in Europe, with a production worth $803 billion.

Make UK emphasized that while this upward movement in the rankings is promising, it’s only the third time since 2002 that the UK has surpassed France. It cautioned against attributing this achievement to any post-Brexit effects or specific factors.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for 2022 places UK manufacturing output at £224 billion. Make UK suggests that if the UK government commits to its call for a manufacturing target of 15% of GDP, which they estimate would add £142 billion to the UK economy, the sector could aim to reach the seventh position currently held by Italy.

In light of many competitor nations implementing their own versions of an Industrial Strategy, Make UK has reiterated its call for a long-term, modern, and robust strategy that can help transform the 15% ambition into a reality.

The analysis of official data also underscores that the United States remains the primary export market for UK goods, valued at £56.7 billion in 2022. Although Germany has slipped from its position as the second-highest destination (£33.3 billion), being overtaken by The Netherlands (£37 billion), Make UK cautioned that trade with the Netherlands could be artificially inflated due to goods being routed through Rotterdam for further transit to other destinations.

Ireland holds the fourth-largest export market position (£30.3 billion), with six of the top ten export markets situated in the EU. Together, these EU markets are worth approximately £150 billion, nearly three times the value of exports to the US and approximately four times that of exports to China. This highlights the continued significance of the EU for UK goods and underscores the need to alleviate trade barriers with this dominant market.

Examining sectors, food and drink emerged as the most significant exporter, accounting for 12.4% of manufactured goods exported in 2022. Furthermore, this sector experienced substantial export growth of nearly 23% compared to 2021. Aerospace and transport also saw their exports surge by 27.9% during the same period, underscoring their vital role in high-value manufacturing and the broader economy.

Contrary to popular belief, the analysis by Make UK reveals that manufacturing jobs offer higher wages than both the services sector and the overall economy. Official data indicates that the average salary in manufacturing in 2022 stood at £36,488, compared to £33,402 for the general economy and £32,676 for the services sector.

Regionally, the North West of the UK retains its status as the largest manufacturing area, contributing £28.2 billion in output and employing 314,000 people. The sector accounts for nearly 15% of the North West’s economic output and 8% of regional employment. Wales boasts the highest share of manufacturing, accounting for almost a fifth (17.3%) of the Welsh economy, compared to the national average of just under 10%.


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