Outlook for the chemical industry

  • Growth expected to be slightly above 2014 level

In line with the somewhat higher growth anticipated for the industry in general, we expect chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals) to grow by 4.2% in 2015 (2014: +4.0%). This will be largely attributable to the advanced economies (2015: +2.2%; 2014: +1.6%). At 5.8%, growth will probably decrease slightly in the emerging markets (2014: +6.1%).

The chemical industry in the European Union is not expected to grow appreciably faster in 2015 than in 2014. Despite falling raw material prices, the European market continues to be subject to intense international competition. We assume that production in Germany will cease to shrink and start growing slightly. In France, Spain and the United Kingdom, however, we expect smaller gains in growth compared with the previous year.

We expect somewhat stronger chemical production growth in the United States in 2015, supported by low costs for energy and raw materials as well as by a solid domestic economy. Most of the chemical industry’s customer sectors will probably show robust, and for the most part somewhat higher, growth in 2015 than 2014.

In the emerging markets of Asia, we assume strong growth rates for the chemical industry, albeit somewhat weaker compared with 2014. Although we expect to see a sharper increase in demand from the automobile industry, demand is likely to be lower from the construction industry as a result of the downturn of the construction sector in China.

For Japan, we forecast that chemical production will stabilize following a slight decline in 2014. Against the backdrop of falling automotive production and weaker growth in the construction industry, we anticipate only slight growth.

After the previous year’s decline, we expect the chemical industry to grow again slightly in South America. We anticipate recovery in Brazil, driven by higher production in the transportation and construction sectors. The market will probably continue to shrink slightly in Argentina. We do, however, expect vigorous production growth at 2014 levels in Chile, Ecuador and Colombia, and considerable gains in Peru.

Outlook for chemical production 2015 (excluding pharmaceuticals)
(Real change compared with previous year)
Outlook chemical production 2015 (excl. pharmaceuticals), Real change compared with previous year (bar chart)
Trends in chemical production 2015–2017 (excluding pharmaceuticals)
(Average annual real change)
Trends chemical production 2015–2017 (excl. pharmaceuticals), Average annual real change (bar chart)