It is very easy assume that Asia ex-Japan will eventually catch up with the West and become as good at "solution" chemicals as the West. I am excluding Japan because it has long been a major speciality player.
All the money that China, for example, is pouring into its state-run research institutes would seem to suggest that eventually, the country will produce a BASF - or at least a collection of companies that come close to matching the German giant's innovation.
But this report from Deutsche Bank - in a theme I will be touching on a lot over the next few weeks - points out that despite the great drift east, Europe has has held its own.World_chemicals_market_Asia_gaining_ground.pdf">
I've created a new category "Analysts' Reports" which you will hopefully find useful.
The Deutsche Bank report concludes that the West has a great opportunity - and has already made an excellent start - in the green chemistry race.
"In 2007, Europe accounted for 31% of global chemicals turnover; in 1997 the share was 32%." write its authors.
Here's another important statistic from the study: BASF's turnover in 2007 was Euro60bn - the same as the entire Indian chemicals industry.
Knowledge retention, which I talked about yesterday, will be crucial for the West if it is to maintain this lead.
Constant innovation through a willingness to fail many times before succeeding might also be important. As Winston Churchill said: "Sucess is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."
It's going to be fascinating to see how the new Dow and Rohm & Haas entity raises its game to meet the challenge of responding to the need for clever new products that must also be sustainable.
Finally, here are a couple of examples of Western innovation, the credibility of which I cannot vouch for.
Ford claims to have developed a way of sequestering VOCs from paints for conversion into fuel for fuel cells.
These serve to illustrate one of the other points I made yesterday - the need to navigate all the information out there to keep up-to-speed with a rapidly changing chemicals world.
I'm bewildered. I don't know about you