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Outlook for the chemical industry

We expect the following developments in the chemical industry in 2013:

  • Recovery in global chemical production (+3.6%)
  • European Union: only slight growth in the chemical industry (+0.3%)
  • United States: chemical industry grows by 1.9%, somewhat slower than in previous year, due primarily to weaker growth in automotive and construction industries
  • Asia (excluding Japan): faster growth (+8.1%); growth stimulus primarily from construction, automotive, electronics and consumer goods industries
  • Japan: stabilization (–0.6%) after significant production declines in previous year
  • South America: growth considerably faster than in previous year (+3.7%); economic upswing expected for Brazil

We expect global chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals) to recover in 2013 (+3.6%), putting it back on the growth track expected for the medium term. After the previous year’s near-stagnation in production in the industrialized countries, we anticipate slight growth for 2013 (+0.9%). We expect growth in the emerging markets to remain strong (+6.8%).

Outlook chemical production 2013 (excl. pharmaceuticals)
(Real change compared with previous year)
Outlook chemical production 2013 (excl. pharmaceuticals) (bar chart)Enlarge image
Trends chemical production 2013–2015 (excl. pharmaceuticals)
(Average annual real change)
Trends chemical production 2013–2015 (excl. pharmaceuticals) (bar chart)Enlarge image

Chemical production in the European Union is likely to grow only slightly (+0.3%), owing in part to minimal growth in industrial production overall. We forecast continuing production declines in the southern European countries. In Germany, however, chemical production is expected to grow moderately. In the medium term, we assume average annual growth of around 1.0% in European chemical production.

The chemical industry in the United States will benefit once again from low gas prices in 2013. However, we anticipate slower growth in the automotive industry, a key customer for chemical products. Growth in the construction industry will also be somewhat weaker than in 2012. We anticipate slower growth overall in the U.S. chemical industry (+1.9%). In the medium term, we forecast annual growth of 2.3%.

In Asia (excluding Japan), chemical production in 2013 (+8.1%) will probably somewhat exceed the previous year’s pace of growth. After an economic slowdown in China in 2012, we expect additional growth stimulus from sectors like the construction, automotive, electronics and consumer goods industries. In the medium term, we predict annual growth of around 7.8%.

After the previous year’s considerable production declines in Japan, we expect only slightly negative growth 2013 (–0.6%). We assume that growth will pick up over the course of the year. In the medium term, we expect an annual growth rate of 0.7%.

Chemical production in South America will presumably grow significantly faster in 2013 (+3.7%) than in the previous year. We expect an economic upswing in Brazil, which will lead to increased demand for chemical products, especially in the construction and agricultural sectors. In the medium term, we anticipate average annual growth of 3.9%.