Sector News

EU chemical sector still growing, but losing momentum

June 6, 2018
Chemical Value Chain

Production of chemicals in the European Union grew by 1.9% in the period January through March 2018, compared with the corresponding period in 2017.

Output rose by more than 2.5% year over year (YOY) in some sectors, such as cosmetic chemicals, paints and coatings, and man-made fibers. Specialty chemicals showed more modest growth of 1.7% YOY. Basic inorganics declined by 6% YOY. The EU chemical production index (2015 = 100) slipped from 104.2 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 102.7 in the latest quarter.

Producer prices rose by 2.5% YOY in first-quarter 2018, with plastics, dyes and pigments posting growth in prices of more than 4% YOY.

EU imports of chemicals rose by 8% YOY in the first quarter of this year, to reach a value of €18.8 billion ($22 billion). All chemicals sectors posted an increase in imports, with the exception of basic inorganics. EU chemical imports from China and South Korea rose significantly during the same period, EU chemical imports from Africa, the Middle East, and the United States declined.

Exports of chemicals from the European Union increased by €1.5 billion in the first three months of this year, or 5.8% YOY, to reach a value of €26.4 billion. All chemical sectors posted an increase in exports. EU chemical exports to the United States increased by €713 million, nearly 60% of which was petrochemicals. EU chemical exports to the Middle East, South Korea, and China fell during the first quarter.

Capacity utilization in the EU chemical industry was down in the first quarter of 2018, falling by 0.6% YOY to reach 82.9%, compared with 84.1% in the last quarter of 2017.

The World Economic Climate has deteriorated, according to the ifo World Economic Survey (WES, second-quarter 2018). The ifo indicator dropped from 26.0 points in first-quarter 2018 to 16.5 points in the second quarter. The economic climate deteriorated in nearly all regions, according to ifo. Global GDP expected to grow by 3.9% this year, ifo says.

By Michael Ravenscroft

Source: Chemical Week

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