24 December 2001 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]Although much of the European polymers sector is struggling, market observers stress that there is no reason to be too gloomy because the underlying state of the market could justify a degree of optimism. Page 4
BP and Nippon Gohsei have finalized an agreement under which Nippon Gohsei is constructing a 15,000 metric ton-per-year EVOH plant at BP's site in the UK. Page 4
The market for ascorbic acid continues to deteriorate, as low-cost Chinese product pressures the industry. Producers are suffering from depressingly low prices and overcapacity. Page 6
In addition to the slowing economy, coatings manufacturers are also facing lead paint litigation. Following the successful outcomes in tobacco and asbestos litigation, the coatings industry has now become the target of state and municipal lawsuits. Page 8
After suffering from oversupply and historically low prices, the soybean oil market is slowly recovering from the slump starting in the second half of the year. Page 9
Price fluctuations and volatility affected the sulfur market for much of 2001. Demand for phosphate fertilizers declined during the first half of 2001 but picked up later in the year. Demand has remained strong, but although imports are increasing, supply is still not meeting demand. Page 10
Following its merger with the hub Envera in June, ChemConnect, the chemicals and plastics e-marketplace, hopes to reach the break-even point by 2003. Page 11
Sumitomo Chemical and Mitsui Chemicals may establish their 50-50 joint venture polyolefins company, Sumitomo Mitsui Polyolefin, by April 2002 or even earlier. The merger was delayed in October this year after the Japan Fair Trade Commission declared that the deal might infringe upon the country's antimonopoly laws. Page 12
Fred Webber will retire next summer after almost a decade of service as president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. The announcement comes as the successful merger with the American Plastics Council becomes effective on January 1.
"A new organization needs fresh leadership," says Mr. Webber. "It is difficult to imagine anything will match the exciting and rewarding years working for the US chemical industry."
Officials say a board-level search committee has been appointed, along with the executive search firm Korn Ferry International, to find a replacement to lead the ACC in the years ahead.
During his tenure at the ACC, Mr. Webber transformed the group primarily from an advocacy organization into a business partnership with member companies.
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