Sector News

EU chemical growth still positive, despite deteriorating world economic climate

September 10, 2018
Chemical Value Chain

Production of chemicals in the European Union grew by 0.9% in the period from January to May this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2017, according to the latest Chemical Trends Report from Cefic.

Output in specialty sectors such as cosmetics, paints and coatings, and man-made fibers rose by nearly 5% year over year (YOY), Cefic says, although specialty chemicals as a whole posted growth of only 1.2% YOY. In contrast, output of basic inorganics shrank by 6.3% YOY.

Producer prices rose by 2.3% YOY in the period January to May, with prices of basic inorganics, dyes and pigments climbing by more than 4.9% YOY.

EU chemical exports were worth €67.7 billion ($78.2 billion) through May this year, compared with €66 billion in the year-ago period, an increase of 2.6% YOY. Exports of chemicals from the European Union to the United States, its biggest market, jumped by 10.4% YOY in the period January to May 2018, to reach a value of €13.8 billion. Nearly 45% of the exports were petrochemicals, according to Cefic. The United States was the destination of 20.4% of EU chemical exports, followed by the rest of Europe (but excluding Russia), at 19.2%. EU chemical exports to China, Japan, the Middle East, and South Korea fell during the reporting period.

Imports of chemicals into the European Union rose by 4.1% in the period January–May 2018, to reach a value of €48.8 billion. EU imports of chemicals from the United States, the major source of EU chemical imports, fell by 6.7% YOY to €9.8 billion. More than one third (35%) of these imports were specialties, Cefic says. The United States accounted for 20.5% of EU chemical imports, followed by the rest of Europe, excluding Russia, at 17%. Chemical imports rose in all sectors during the period, with the exception of basic inorganics and consumer chemicals.

The European Union’s net trade surplus in chemicals during the first five months of 2018 was €19.9 billion. The largest chemical trade surplus for the European Union is with the rest of Europe and the United States. The region has a trade deficit in chemicals with China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Capacity utilization in the EU chemical industry was 83.5% in the second quarter of this year, compared with 82.9% in the previous quarter, but down by 3.3% YOY. Chemical capacity utilization is 3.2% above the long-term average during 2005–17, according to Cefic.

The economic climate deteriorated in nearly all regions, according to the Ifo World Economic Survey (WES, third-quarter 2018). Economic expectations also cooled in the United States, Cefic says. Developments in world trade have been dominated by the current conflict over tariffs, with the majority of experts predicting lower exports in the months ahead, particularly for the United States and China, according to Cefic. Forecast global investment activity levels fell significantly. Private consumption is also expected to stagnate, according to the experts surveyed. The world economy has slowed to a crawl, according to Ifo.

By Michael Ravenscroft

Source: Chemical Week

comments closed

Related News

May 15, 2022

New York’s EPR and packaging reduction bills lauded as game-changers in plastic pollution battle

Chemical Value Chain

The US State of New York is introducing two new bills to combat over-packaging, poor recycling rates and litter issues, including an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program requiring companies such as McDonald’s and Amazon to pay for the cost of packaging disposal and recycling.

May 15, 2022

Borealis and Reclay launch entity focused on lightweight packaging 

Chemical Value Chain

The new organization’s mission is to redesign the critical steps of the plastics sorting and recycling system for post-consumer lightweight packaging (LWP) to speed up circularity, born from a need to meet the rising market demand for high-quality recyclates for use in high-end plastic applications.

May 15, 2022

Starbucks and Hubbub launch reusable packaging fund as COVID-19 diminishes consumer appetite

Chemical Value Chain

Starbucks and Hubbub have launched a £1 million (US$1.22 million) “Bring It Back Fund” to increase the uptake of reusable packaging in the F&B industry. The funding will go toward innovative ideas that make it easier for customers to use alternatives to single-use packaging by supporting pilot projects that help shift consumption habits.