The global construction industry posted its slowest pace of growth in a decade in 2019, dropping to 2.6%, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. The sluggish performance was primarily due to weakness in a number of advanced economies, including the US, the UK and Australia. However, GlobalData predicts that growth will edge up to 3.1% in 2020, in part driven by a projected improvement in the global economy. This, in turn, relies on improvements in financial market sentiment and a stabilisation in some of the large currently troubled emerging markets.

GlobalData provides construction output forecasts for 91 of the world’s largest construction markets, alongside an analysis of how political, economic, financial and market risks could affect construction activity. With a focus on growth prospects and risk factors in 2020, GlobalData has selected 10 key markets to watch in 2020.

The list includes the US and Canada, where construction activity is set to improve in 2020. GlobalData forecasts that construction output in the US will recover to grow by 0.6% in 2020, following a contraction of 1% in 2019. The outlook for the US construction industry is looking slightly brighter in 2020 due to a recovery in residential construction and continued investment, especially in the transport and energy and utilities sectors. Meanwhile, Canada’s construction output growth is expected to recover to 0.9% in 2020, improving from an estimated drop of 1% in 2019. Following several months of declines, Canada’s housing market finally appears to be coming out of recession thanks to relatively low borrowing costs, strengthening consumer spending and record levels of immigration.

Also included is the UK, where Brexit will continue to constrain the pace of construction investment growth. The decisive outcome of the December 2019 general election will provide the industry with confidence that the new government will be in a strong position to push through its policy agenda, particularly on the vital issue of the UK’s exit from the EU. However, there will still be significant challenges ahead as the industry will need to adjust to operating outside of the EU under new trade and investment deals.

Two large emerging markets are included: India, which has been struggling with a liquidity crunch that has contributed to a slowdown in construction output growth, and Brazil, where construction growth is set to gather some momentum in 2020. Renewed economic weakness and a liquidity crunch have heavily impacted construction activity in India, particularly in the residential sector, with reports of increasing numbers of new developments being put on hold as developers struggle to secure funding to reach completion. Although a bailout fund has been announced, further support could be required in 2020 to boost confidence and prevent a prolonged decline in the Indian construction market.

Turkey is another market to watch. Turkey’s construction industry is expected to recover in 2020 thanks to the government’s focus on developing transport, residential and energy infrastructure, as well as investments under its 11th five-year development plan 2019-2023. The government aims to boost economic growth by 2023, under which it aims to build 13,478km of new roads and 5,748km of new highways by 2023. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, an infrastructure investment programme is set to be revitalised. The pace of construction growth is expected to pick up in 2020, rising to 8.0%, having weakened in the first half of last year owing to a four-month delay in the enactment of the 2019 budget. The country’s construction industry is set to benefit from the revitalisation of a large-scale infrastructure investment programme.

Two fast-growing African markets are also included in the list: Ethiopia, where economic growth will continue to support the expansion in construction, and Egypt, where the government plans to boost capital expenditure with a focus on the power and transport sectors. Also included in the list is Ghana, a small politically-stable emerging market where the government is accelerating growth in infrastructure investment.