Sector News

Cefic: EU chemicals still growing steadily

August 30, 2018
Chemical Value Chain

Production of chemicals in the European Union grew by 1.1% in the period from January to May 2018 compared with the corresponding period in 2017, according to the latest Chemicals Trends Report from Cefic.

Output rose in some subsectors, such as cosmetics, paints and coatings, and man-made fibers, by more than 2.3% year over year (YOY). Specialty chemicals in general grew by 1.4% YOY. Output of basic inorganics, however, declined by 6.3% YOY during the same period.

Producer prices of EU chemicals have increased by 2.3% YOY during the period from January to May this year, with the prices of basic inorganic chemicals and dyes and pigments growing by 4.8% YOY.

Exports of chemicals from the European Union were worth €54 billion ($63.1 billion) in the period from January through April this year, compared with €52.2 billion in the year-ago period, an increase of 3.4%. EU exports of chemicals to the United States, the EU’s largest market, jumped by 14% YOY, to reach a value of €11.4 billion. Nearly half of these exports were attributable to petrochemicals, according to Cefic. The United States was the destination for 21.1% of EU chemical exports, followed by the rest of Europe (excluding Russia), with 19.2%. Exports of chemicals from the European Union to China, the Middle East, Japan, and South Korea fell during the reporting period.

Imports of chemicals into the European Union rose by 4.2% during the first four months of this year, to reach a value of €37.7 billion. Imports of chemicals from the United States, more than a third of which (35%) were specialties, fell from €8.2 billion in the first four months of 2017 to €7.7 billion in the latest period, a drop of 6.1%. The United States accounted for 20.3% of EU chemical imports, followed by the rest of Europe (excluding Russia), at 17.2%. All chemical sectors posted an increase in imports, apart from basic inorganics and consumer chemicals. EU chemical imports from Africa, the Middle East, and Russia fell during the reporting period.

The European Union’s net trade surplus was €16.4 billion during the period from January through April 2018, an increase of €253 million, or 1.5% YOY. The largest EU chemical trade surplus is with the rest of Europe. The European Union has a trade deficit in chemicals with China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Employment in the EU chemical industry grew by 1.7% YOY in the period from January to March 2018.

By Michael Ravenscroft

Source: Chemical Week

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