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Cefic Trend Report EU Chemicals Output Growth Flat in 2013

| Editor: Dr. Jörg Kempf

European chemicals sector output was stagnant in 2013, according to the latest Cefic Chemicals Trends Report. The year ended with an overall strong December, despite petrochemicals contraction.

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EU chemicals*: production
EU chemicals*: production
(Source: Cefic Chemdata International, *chemicals (excluding pharmaceuticals, New Nace Rev2, C20))

Brussels – Zero growth in 2013 meant the sector remained 6.4% below the pre-crisis, full-year peak level reached in 2007. The year-end figure was slightly better than the Cefic forecast given last September, which predicted a slight contraction of 0.5% for the year.

Latest monthly data show output expanded 2.0% in December year on year, the fourth consecutive month of above-zero growth. A stronger second half 2013 helped pull the sector out of a recession.

EU chemicals exports keep driving sector activity, the net trade surplus reaching € 45.8 billion through November 2013. The surplus grew by € 779 million during the January-November 2013 period compared with the same period the year prior. EU chemicals prices fell 2.7% in December 2013 compared to December 2012. Year-on-year total sales were 3.3% lower for the first 11 months of 2013.

Sector confidence decreased slightly in January 2014, after increasing for three consecutive months. Capacity utilisation saw a minor drop from 79.1% in the third quarter of 2013 to 78.8% in the fourth.

Basic Inorganics Offset Petrochemicals Production Drop

Petrochemicals output continued to contract in December, down by 7.1% compared with December 2012. The steep drop was partially offset by strong growth in basic inorganics, up 8.8% in December year-on-year.

Polymers output expanded by 4.0% while consumer chemicals grew by 0.8%. Specialty chemicals expanded by 1.6% during the same period.

More about EU chemical producer prices on the next page.

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