EU Chemical Business Gains Momentum

27.01.2017 -

Chemical business in the European Union became more favorable in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the rest of the year, and economic sentiment in the euro zone improved on the whole, according to figures compiled by the World Economic Study and the EU Commission Business Survey. The statistics agencies said, however, that the current business situation and the outlook for the coming months were “markedly different” across EU member states.

Output in the EU chemicals sector saw no growth during the first eleven months of 2016, compared to the same period one year ago, the EU survey said.  The chemical industry continues to weather the impact of globalization as well as competitiveness challenges associated with the cost of doing business in the 28 member states, it noted.

According to the report, flat output and declining prices have negatively impacted EU chemical sales for at least three years. From January to October 2016, sales declined by 3.6%, led by a 4.2% setback in domestic sales. Led by polymers and specialty chemicals EU chemicals exports totaled €120.9 billion in the year’s first ten months, a decline of €28 billion. The US and European countries not part of the EU were the largest markets.

In the same period, imports of chemicals into the EU declined by €3.4 billion to €82.4 billion, with the US and the “rest of Europe” again the two largest markets. The EU’s net trade surplus was €38.5 billion, an increase of €594 million through October 2016.  According to the survey, the rest of Europe (including Russia) contributed largely to this development.

The chemicals surplus with the US underwent a severe drop in the first ten months, mainly in regard to petrochemicals, which undoubtedly reflected increasing US self-sufficiency, thanks to shale gas exploitation. In the general export surplus scenario, polymers and specialty chemicals saw the biggest setback, while basic inorganics and petrochemicals contributed to the widening of the overall surplus. The EU chemical industry continued to register a trade deficit with South Korea, India and Japan.