Financial crisis keeps prices low for Europe chlor-alkalis

24 June 2010 22:25  [Source: ICIS news]

SHANGHAI (ICIS news)--The European chlor-alkali market is still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis as prices continue to languish at low levels, market players said on Thursday.

Demand for chlorine and caustic soda remained weak in Europe, making it difficult to raise prices since the 2008 crash, speakers said at the 14th ICIS Asian Chlor-alkali Conference.

“Europe is still not over the recession. Full recovery is a few years away and there is talk of a double dip because of the debt crisis,” said Charles Fryer, chairman of Tecnon OrbiChem.

The European chlor-alkali market could grow by 3-6% this year, although expectations varied on both the region and end application.

Meanwhile, developing nations such as Brazil, China and India were driving the recovery in the chlor-alkali segment, said Mikiya Yamada, chemical sector analyst at Barclays Capital.

In 2009, Asia accounted for 42% of the world's caustic soda demand, Yamada said. Europe made up 19% and North America 22%.

Asian demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was even higher - at 43%, Yamada said. Demand was 19% for both Europe and North America.

The European market would not return to pre-2008 levels until at least 2012, said Janet Wright, chlor-alkali business manager for Tecnon OrbiChem.

“The predictions for growth are obviously not as robust as they were pre-recession. It’s going to be a slow recovery for Europe,” Wright said.

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By: Stephanie Wilson
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