The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 triggered a health crisis that escalated to an economic crisis with severe impact on both global demand and supply. This resulted in a slowdown of production as countries introduced COVID-19 containment measures that ranged from restriction of movements to shutdown of business operations, in some cases.
Global manufacturing output had been on a decline since 2019 partly due to trade uncertainty caused by Brexit, and trade tensions between the US and China1. However, the pandemic aggravated the drop in manufacturing output in the subsequent quarters of the year 2020. Global manufacturing output contracted by 6.0% in the first quarter of 2020 and a further 11.1% in the second quarter (Table 1). The contraction of manufacturing output in the second quarter of 2020 occurred in all regions, except for China which registered a 3.2% growth in output. A similar pattern was witnessed in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, with China recording a rise in its manufacturing output while other regions recorded a contraction in their output, albeit at a lower magnitude compared to the second quarter of 2020.