Economic Environment

Global economy

At 3.1%, the global economy continued to grow at about the prior-year pace in 2018. In the United States, the economy performed better than in the previous year, mainly driven by expansive fiscal policy, tax reforms and robust job growth. The economy in the European Union remained dynamic despite weaker year-on-year growth as fiscal supports and emerging labor markets boosted domestic demand. In China, economic growth continued, reaching 6.6% over the previous year, and was driven primarily by consumption. Increasing barriers to trade had a dampening effect.

Economic Environment
















1 Real growth of gross domestic product, source: IHS (Global Insight), as of February 2019






European Union





of which Germany










of which United States










of which China





Main customer industries2

In fiscal 2018, automotive production worldwide dropped around 1%. Despite a decline in sales of some 4%, China remains the most important sales market for the automotive industry. The Eastern Europe and Latin America regions managed to register considerable growth, while North America, Asia, and particularly Western Europe were lower year on year.

In 2018, growth in the global construction industry, at approximately 3%, was weaker than in the previous year. An ongoing recovery in Eastern Europe and Latin America as well as the continued stability of the investment climate in North America were unable to offset the decline in growth in Western Europe and China.

The global electrical, electronics and household appliances industry expanded by some 7% in 2018. Growing approximately 11% on average, the emerging economies continued their positive performance in contrast with weaker growth of some 4% in the industrialized countries.

In 2018, the global furniture industry grew by roughly 2% year over year. All regions saw positive growth rates, although Asia stands out as the main driver at around 4%.

2 Covestro’s estimate, based on the following sources: LMC Automotive Limited, B+L, CSIL (Centre for Industrial Studies), Oxford Economics