Editor’s pickChina dominates as world's top furniture exporter but growth unlikely to be sustained in the future
Total furniture production was valued at USUS$430 billion in 2017, according to the World Furniture Outlook 2018 published by Milan-based furniture research organisation CSIL.
The world’s top 100 furniture producing countries account for 90 per cent of world population and 95 per cent of world GDP. The furniture trade accounted for one per cent of total global trade, at US$140 billion. After a sharp rise in the value of global furniture trade in the decade prior to 2012, trade remained broadly flat in the past five years.
To nobody’s surprise, China continues to take top position as the world’s largest furniture manufacturer. In 2017, China alone accounted for nearly 40 per cent of global production. USA, the second largest producer, accounted for 12 per cent, followed some way behind by Germany (5%), Italy (4%), India (4%), Poland (3%), Japan (2%), Vietnam (2%), UK (2%) and Canada (2%).
Furniture exports in China, the largest exporter, were around US$51 billion in 2017, a slight gain on the previous year but still lower than in 2015.
Exports in Germany and Italy, the next largest, were both valued at around US$11 billion in 2017, a level that has hardly changed in the last eight years. However, exports have been climbing in Poland and Vietnam, reaching around US$10 billion and US$8 billion respectively in 2017.
The US is the world’s largest furniture importer, with imports of around US$34 billion in 2017 having risen continuously from only around US$24 billion in 2010. The value of imports in the next largest importing countries—Germany (~US$13 Bn), the UK (US$7 Bn), France (US$7 Bn) and Canada (US$6 Bn)–were broadly flat during the same seven-year period.
CSIL forecasts that global consumption of furniture will rise by 3.5 per cent in real terms in 2018. The fastest growing region continues to be Asia, with all other regions growing between 1 – 3 per cent in real terms.
While China’s furniture production continues to rise rapidly, export growth is more subdued according to CSIL. The report predicts that Chinese furniture export growth is unlikely ever to return to levels seen earlier this decade due to rising labour rates in China, the progressive appreciation of the Renminbi against the USD between 2003 and 2016, rising competition particularly from Vietnam; and the rapid domestic demand.
Currently around 30% of China’s furniture production is exported, but this proportion is gradually declining as more product is sold into the domestic market.