Trends in the Chemical Industry

  • Global growth weaker than in prior year and below expectations

The global chemical industry (excluding pharmaceuticals) grew by 2.7%, below our expectations at the beginning of 2018 (+3.6%) and below 2017 (+3.7%). Chemical production in the E.U. declined slightly overall after the strong prior year (2018: –0.9%, 2017: +3.2%), but fell sharply at the end of 2018 in particular. Contributing factors included capacity bottlenecks, lower export demand and weaker demand from the automotive industry in the second half of the year. In Asia, growth slowed overall to 3.4% after 4.5% in the previous year. At 3.6%, growth in the world’s largest chemical market, China, was lower than in the prior year (+4.0%) and significantly lower than forecast at the beginning of the year (+5.0%). Stagnant demand from the automotive industry and slower momentum in other customer industries had a dampening effect. In Japan, too, growth fell significantly to 0.9% (2017: +7.1%) due to softer export demand. By contrast, growth picked up in the United States on the back of the economic upturn there and new production capacity (2018: +3.7%; 2017: +2.6%).

Chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals)

Real change compared with previous year

Chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals), Real change compared with previous year (bar chart)