Technological watch

EU chemicals market share drops as China turns to “great power”

The European Union’s share of the world chemicals market dropped significantly over a the 10-year period between 2008 and 2018, leading the region to gradually lose its top spot to Asian players, with China stepping into first place.
 
China’s share of world chemicals market sales in 2018 swelled to 35.8%, up from the 18.2% reported in 2008, a recent review by the European Chemical Industry (CEFIC) has revealed.
 
The EU contribution to world chemical sales dropped from 26.5% in 2008 to 16.9% in 2018.
 
In 2018, the EU28 and Russia generated sales revenues of €640.5bn, which amounted to a growth of 2.8% compared to 2017.
 
However, China, which posted sales of €1,200bn - higher than the EU and US combined - successfully left the rest of the world in the dust.
 

Cefic“China is taking its chemical industry to the next stage of development and is looking to move from ‘following the lead’ to ‘taking the lead’ and from a ‘big country’ to a ‘great power’ of the petroleum and chemical industry,” said the Cefic 2020 Facts & Figures report.
 
The results also show a decreasing share of chemical sales for industrial regions such as NAFTA and Japan over the past ten years.
 
NAFTA’s share of global sales went down from 21.8% in 2008 to 15.8% in 2018, while in Japan market share decreased from 7 % to 5.4% in the same period.
 
Chemicals sales in the US reached €468bn in 2018, showing a modest 1% improvement compared to the year before.
 
With an annual investment of €10bn in research and innovation, Cefic said that the European chemical industry was still “a world leader and a highly innovative” sector.
 
Nevertheless, with 90% of global GDP growth taking place outside Europe in the coming decades, the challenge will be to remain competitive.
 
“Taking advantage of emerging market opportunities will require EU leadership in creating attractive framework conditions that enhance the global position of European chemicals,” said the Cefic report.
 
The document called for a “favourable European industrial policy” to stimulate innovation and investment and deliver a low-carbon and circular economy.
 
To that end, ambitious trade policies such as CETA and the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, are vital, the report emphasised.

Publication date: 18/12/2019

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Last update: 2020-07-14