Vehicles, clothing, furniture; see 11 industry sectors that set back this year

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Under the impact of a combination of negative effects, 17 of the 26 industrial activities registered, in September, a level of production below that of the pre-pandemic in Brazil. The result was released this Thursday (4) by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics).

In the view of analysts, the data represents another sign of loss of breath at the factories, which suffer from a shortage of inputs, increased costs and difficulties in the domestic market.

The weaker pace took shape throughout this year. Proof of this is that, in January 2021, the number of activities below the pre-pandemic level — in February 2020 — was lower.

In the first month of this year, 7 of the 26 industrial activities were at a lower level than before the crisis. Meanwhile, another 19 were operating at a level above or equal to that of February 2020.

The point is that, of these 19, 11 lost steam throughout the year and were, in September, at a lower level than before the pandemic.

The most complicated situation is in the field of motor vehicles, trailers and bodies. In the ninth month of this year, the activity’s production went down to 19.4% below the pre-crisis level.

It is the biggest negative distance between the segments, compared to February 2020. By way of comparison, in January 2021 the vehicle sector was at a level 3.5% higher than the pre-pandemic.

According to André Macedo, research manager at the IBGE, the performance of this activity has been slowed down by the scarcity of inputs. The lack of chips, for example, came to paralyze the production lines of automakers.

“The negative pressure is significant,” he reported.

In September, the production of apparel and accessories items was 14.6% below February 2020, the second biggest reduction among the activities. In January this year, this branch recorded production 11.1% higher than in the pre-pandemic.

Next comes the furniture segment, which is 14.4% below the period prior to the Covid-19 crisis. In January 2021, the activity was operating at a level 11.2% above February 2020.

For economist Rafael Cagnin, from Iedi (Institute of Studies for Industrial Development), the loss of breath in clothing and furniture reflects a series of aspects that range from the scarcity of some inputs to high inflation and unemployment.

The last two factors, underlines the economist, reduce the purchasing power of part of the population, which spills over into factories.

The other eight sectors that lost steam this year and were below February 2020 are the following: leather, travel goods and footwear, computer equipment, various products, textiles, rubber and plastic material, perfumery, beverages and other products chemicals.

The only sector that, in January 2021, was below the pre-crisis level and, in September, managed to overcome this level was the mining and quarrying industry (see details in the chart below).

According to the IBGE, industrial production in September, in general terms, was 3.2% below the pre-pandemic level.

In January 2021, the difference was positive. At the time, the sector operated at a level 3.5% above the pre-crisis level.

“The game has turned. It went from water to wine. We lost the recovery seen from the middle of last year, and the sector continues to fall. The year 2021 is not a reaction year for the industry”, points out Cagnin.

According to the IBGE, only 9 of the 26 industrial sectors operated, in September, above the pre-pandemic. The greatest positive distance, compared to February 2020, was registered by machinery and equipment.

The sector’s production was at a level 19.9% ​​above that of pre-coronavirus. In January this year, the difference was 16.2%.

According to Macedo, the positive performance reflects the demand for machinery and equipment in the agricultural and construction sectors.

On Thursday, the IBGE informed that the production of the general industry fell 0.4% in the country, in September, compared to August. It was the fourth consecutive retraction compared to the immediately previous month.

“The industry had a reaction from the middle of last year, with a low basis of comparison and emergency measures to help companies and families. But, now, this process has been exhausted”, analyzes Cagnin.

“We still have a disarticulation of the productive chains, acceleration of inflation, an increase in interest rates and unemployment that does not relent”, he completes.

In the economist’s opinion, the picture can put into question the investment capacity of companies to modernize production processes.

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