This is an idiom that comes from boxing. If you are "on the ropes" it means you've been beaten up badly and are just barely hanging on. You are so tired and worn out that you need to lean against the ropes of the boxing ring to support yourself.
It means the industry is doing very poorly.
May 24, 2013
It's an idiom that comes from the sport of boxing. When a boxer is leaning on the ropes of the ring, he's about to lose the fight. An industry that's on the ropes is about to go out of business.