Trends in the Chemical Industry

  • Global growth much weaker than in prior year and below expectations

The global chemical industry (excluding pharmaceuticals) grew by only 1.8%, well below our expectations (+2.7%) and the 2018 figure (+2.8%). Chemical production in the E.U. declined for the second year in a row (2019: –1.1%, 2018: –0.4%). We had forecast stagnation here (+0.1%).

The year-on-year change was particularly pronounced in the United States (2019: –0.4%, 2018: +4.1%). Consequently, our forecast for 2019 (+3.2%) was also significantly undershot. The drop in growth there was mainly attributable to weak domestic demand from the automotive industry, agriculture and the construction industry. In addition, U.S. chemical exports to China fell significantly as a result of the trade conflict. In South America, too, chemical production declined by 2.0% amid a weak overall economic environment (2018: –0.6%).

By contrast, chemical production in the emerging markets of Asia grew by 4.0%, slightly stronger than expected (+3.6%). This was primarily driven by continued solid growth in China (+4.7%). Chemical production in the remaining emerging markets in the region only rose by 1.1% (2018: +2.7%). By contrast, Japan saw a decline of 0.4%.

Chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals)

Real change compared with previous year

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