Materials Science

Cefic predicts 1.5% stable growth for EU chemicals

The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) has stated this week that it expects modest chemical production growth of 1.5% in the European Union in both 2018 and 2019. Growth will be similar to that recorded in 2017 but more volatile, mainly due to a less favourable global economic environment. The sub-sectors seeing most of the growth will be polymers, specialties and consumer chemicals.

The global economic environment of the European chemical industry has changed. Growth in almost all Western European economies slowed down at the beginning of the year, following an exceptionally strong final quarter of 2017. Many European trade partners posted weaker growth, among them the United States, Japan and Brazil.

The manufacturing output of the customer industries of the EU chemical sector also slowed down compared to 2017. European manufacturing output is forecast to grow less than last year, by 2.5% in 2018, down from the solid growth of 3.5% reached in 2017. The slowdown is widespread over all industries, including construction, automotive, consumer goods and investment goods such as mechanical and electrical machinery. Looking ahead, output in the EU manufacturing is expected to grow by 1.5% in 2019.

The sector’s growth and international competitiveness are also likely to be impacted by increasing protectionist trade policies – which may dampen demand for EU goods – and increasing oil prices. Because of its internationally integrated value chains and strong export orientation, the chemical industry remains a fervent supporter of free trade. It strongly supports the ambition shown by EU Commissioner Malmström and the European member states recently in finalising a series of new free trade agreements with regions and countries from across the world.