EPCA ’11: Economic anxiety causes demand slowdown – Huntsman exec

02 October 2011 15:42  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--Global economic worries are causing a slowdown in chemicals demand, the president of US-based Huntsman’s Performance Products division said on Sunday.

“I think everybody is apprehensive,” said Stewart Monteith on the sidelines of the 45th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting. “Nobody wants to be caught like they were in 2008.”

While no-one is predicting a “doomsday” scenario like the beginning of the recession in 2008, “the fourth quarter is going to see a dampening in demand”, Monteith said.

“We’ve got a lot of discussions at Huntsman” regarding the economy, he added.

“Certainly demand is getting slower,” he said, adding, “Asia is still growing year over year, but the growth has slowed down.”

Monteith said: “The customers all have apprehension about what is going to happen through the balance of the year and when it [the economy] is predicted to come back.

“I think everybody is recognising that it is going to be weak through the balance of the year.”

As a result, he said, performance products customers are placing their orders relatively late, and “then in the fourth quarter everybody cuts back their purchases to control inventory. It is going to be a challenge”.

Demand growth in China is slowing as authorities there seek to curb inflation rates. This in turn has caused large infrastructure projects there to slow, Monteith said.

In past years, he said, Huntsman Performance Products saw revenue growth in China “well in excess of the GDP rate…now it is closer to the GDP rate. It is still up year over year but it has slowed down”.

Despite the economic anxiety, Monteith said he expects growth to continue for performance products, which “are not as subjected to the recessionary climate as other divisions”.

The performance products division includes agrochemicals, coatings and polymers including epoxy curatives, cosmetic items and polyurethanes (PU), among other materials.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Brian Ford
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