Economic Environment

Global economy

At 2.5%, the global economy grew at a slower pace in 2019 than in the previous year. All regions saw weaker year-over-year growth. The drivers here were the escalation of trade disputes, especially between the United States and China, and the associated effects on investment activity and exports. The downturn was modest on the whole in the Middle East and Africa as well as China and the Asia-Pacific region. In contrast, North America, Latin America, Europe and especially export-oriented Germany experienced much lower growth rates than in the prior year.

Economic environment








Growth1 2018


Growth1 2019







Real growth of gross domestic product; source: IHS (Global Insight), as of January 2020


North America (not including Central America): Canada, Mexico, United States











of which Western Europe





of which Germany





of which Eastern Europe





Middle East





Latin America










North America2





of which United States










of which China





Main customer industries*

In 2019, automotive production worldwide was down 5%. Despite a decline in sales of some 8%, China remained the largest sales market for the automotive industry. With the exception of Eastern Europe, which saw minimal growth, all regions recorded sharp downturns.

In 2019, growth in the global construction industry, at approximately 2%, 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 stood in contrast to diminishing growth in Western Europe and China.

The global electrical, electronics and household appliances industry expanded by some 4% in 2019. All regions reported a year-over-year slowdown in growth that was mild in North America and Europe, and significant in the Asia-Pacific region. Nonetheless, growth rates were positive, except in Latin America.

In 2019, the global furniture industry grew by about 2%, roughly the same as last year. All regions generated positive growth rates, although Asia-Pacific stands out as the main driver at around 3%.

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