Last Update:
Mar. 10, 2011
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Part of the audited Consolidated Financial Statements and Management´s Analysis

Outlook for the chemical industry

  • Considerable worldwide growth in chemical production (+5.2%)
  • Europe: comparatively moderate growth (+2.9%)
  • United States: stronger growth (+3.3%) than in other industrialized countries
  • Asia (excluding Japan): growth slower than in 2010, but still strong (+9.6%), especially in China (+12.1%)
  • Japan: significant slowdown in growth (+1.9%) compared to previous year
  • South America: strong growth (+4.3%), particularly due to robust domestic demand

In 2011, growth in global chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals) will slow in all regions following the rapid recovery in the previous year. We anticipate considerable growth (+5.2%) in 2011 and the same rate for medium-term annual growth. However, most industrialized countries will not reach pre-crisis production levels before the end of 2011.

For Europe, we forecast comparatively moderate growth for the chemical industry in 2011 (+2.9%). Within the European Union, important customer industries will recover at different paces in different countries. In the medium term, we expect moderate growth in chemical production (+2.7%). The pre-crisis level will therefore not be reached before 2012.

Outlook chemical production 2011 (excl. pharmaceuticals)
(Real change compared with previous year)

Outlook chemical production 2011 (excl. pharmaceuticals) (bar chart)

The growth rate in chemical production in the United States will be higher (+3.3%) than in other large industrialized countries in 2011. As a result of lower natural gas prices, we expect the U.S. chemical sector to be more competitive. In the medium term, we expect moderate average annual growth (+2.4%).

There was a very substantial upswing in chemical production in Asia (excluding Japan) in 2010, primarily thanks to the growth in the Chinese chemical industry, which benefited from the government’s economic stimulus programs. As a result of the winding down of fiscal programs, we expect growth in the region in 2011 to slow somewhat year-on-year, but continue to be strong (+9.6%) – especially in China (+12.1%). In the medium term, we also expect strong average annual growth (+8.5%).

Trends chemical production 2011–2013 (excl. pharmaceuticals)
(Average annual real change)

Trends chemical production 2011–2013 (excl. pharmaceuticals) (bar chart)

The chemical industry in Japan benefited significantly in 2010 from the recovery in the local export-oriented automotive and electronics industries. In 2011, growth will not be nearly as strong (+1.9%). We expect that the crisis-related collapse in production will result in further structural changes and production will only reach its previous level in 2015. In the medium term, production is expected to stabilize at a low rate (+1.4%).

Chemical production in South America will grow again in 2011 thanks to robust domestic demand (+4.3%). As a supplying industry, chemical production in the region will also benefit from the rising construction and infrastructure investments in Brazil. In the medium term, we anticipate solid average growth (+3.5%).

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