The pace of global construction output growth is expected to pick up marginally in 2019, reaching 3.4% from 3.2% in 2018, before rising to 3.5% in 2020. The improvement is entirely owing to acceleration in growth in construction activity in emerging markets, most notably in China, where the authorities are stepping up investment in infrastructure to prevent a continued slowdown. However, growth in China will drop back from 2021 onwards, and this will contribute to a slight easing in construction growth in emerging markets.
However, the expansion in advanced economies will be fairly sluggish in 2019, with growth in North America slowing to 1.2%, and in Western Europe there will be a deceleration to 2.3%. Over the remainder of the forecast period, there will be scope for slightly faster growth in the advanced economies, with monetary policy remaining accommodative, which will contribute to overall global construction growth.
Construction activity growth slowed across Western Europe in 2018, and output will expand by 2.3% a year on average in 2019-2023, which is a marginal slowdown compared to the pace recorded in 2014-2018, of 2.4%. The expansion in the UK is subject to major downside risks in the face of uncertainty relating to the outcome of its exit from the EU.
The pace of construction growth will ease in South and South-East Asia in 2019 following the sharp upturn in 2018, but it will be the fastest growing region in 2019-2023, with average annual growth of 6.5%. There will be sustained recoveries in construction output in the Middle East and Africa, as well as in Latin America. However, weakness in Turkey will pull down the pace of regional expansion in Eastern Europe.
Risks to the overall forecast stem primarily from a possible escalation in the trade war between the US and China, which would ultimately impact on investment and constrain global economic growth. There is also a risk that China could overstep its efforts to support the economy, resulting in an unmanageable debt crisis, which would disrupt investment trends globally, most notably via the impact on demand in commodities markets.
The latest report "Global Construction Outlook to 2023 - Q1 2019 Update", provides a detailed analysis of the prospects for the global construction industry up to 2023. Some of the key snippets from the report -
- The pace of growth in North America’s construction industry is expected to ease over the forecast period (2019-2023) primarily reflecting increasing trade tensions and lower global economic growth. There will be a recovery in the pace of growth from 2021 as ongoing investments in infrastructure development will provide support for the region’s construction industry. Construction activity in Latin America will continue to recover in 2019, with growth expected to pick up to 1.5% and then averaging 2.9% in 2020-2023. However, growth in the region’s construction industry will continue to be subject to downside risks. Argentina’s construction output is in decline, and the recoveries in Brazil and Mexico will remain fragile.
- The Asia-Pacific region will continue to account for the largest share of the global construction industry, given that it includes the large markets of China, Japan and India. The pace of growth over the forecast period will average 4.4%, which is down from the 5.1% in the past five years. Although there will be an acceleration in growth in China in 2019, the general trend is one of slowing growth given the need for China’s government to try to curb excessive investment and avoid a disorderly debt crisis. Moreover, reflecting recent years of overinvestment in residential construction and the resulting glut of new residential properties, building construction output growth will also decelerate. There will also be weakness in South Korea, which is experiencing a sharp contraction in construction works. In India, positive developments in economic conditions, improvement in investor confidence and investments in transport infrastructure, energy and housing projects have helped the construction industry regain growth momentum. The emerging markets of South-East Asia will invest heavily in new infrastructure projects, supported by private investment. Construction output in Australia has been volatile owing to major shifts in the oil and gas sector, but excluding oil and gas, the construction industry will be supported by solid growth in infrastructure and non-residential buildings.
- Construction activity growth slowed across Western Europe in 2018, and output will expand by 2.4% a year on average in 2019-2023, which is a marginal slowdown compared to the pace recorded in 2014-2018, of 2.4%. The expansion in the UK is subject to major downside risks in the face of uncertainty relating to the outcome of its exit from the EU. However, in Germany, ongoing efforts by the government to upgrade the country’s transport infrastructure on the back of the growing population and growth in the manufacturing, retail and tourism sectors are expected to add momentum to industry growth, Monetary policy within the EU will remain accommodating for much of the forecast period, given subdued inflationary pressures and moderate levels of economic growth.
- Construction activity across Eastern Europe and Central Asia expanded at a rapid pace in 2018, primarily reflecting recovery in a number of markets, as EU funding was restarted after a hold-up in 2016. There will be a return to more normal rates of growth from 2019, but construction in Turkey is set to suffer from the effects of instability in the economy. Despite weakness in Russia’s economy, construction is reported to have grown sharply in 2018, and investment in road and rail projects in addition to a recovery in the oil and gas sector will support a recovery in Russia’s construction output.
- Growth in the Middle East and Africa region as a whole will improve markedly in the forecast period, averaging 5.9% a year, compared to 3.4% in 2014-2018. Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have suffered from weakness in oil prices in recent years, as government revenues have been greatly reduced. Assuming oil prices stay relatively high, large-scale investment in infrastructure projects - mostly related to transport - will be a key driving force behind the growth in the region. The pace of growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be particularly strong, averaging 6.3% a year in 2019-2023. There will be a steady acceleration in construction activity in Nigeria, supported by government efforts to revitalize the economy by focusing on developing the country’s infrastructure. Ethiopia will be Africa’s star performer, with its construction industry continuing to improve in line with the country’s economic expansion.
- An overview of the outlook for the global construction industry to 2023
- Analysis of the outlook for the construction industry in major global regions: North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, South and South-East Asia, North-East Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
- A comprehensive benchmarking of 92 leading construction markets according to construction market value and growth
- Analysis of the latest data on construction output trends in key markets.
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