The good news is that global chemical production (the blue diamond line) grew during H2 2009. At the end of H1 2009, it had been equal to the level at the start of 2006. The bad news is that as the chart shows (based on data kindly supplied by Kevin Swift at the American Chemistry Council), it was only back to the level seen at the end of 2006.
At its peak in Q2/Q3 2008, production had been 9.5% above the Q1 2007 level. But at the end of December 2009, it was only 3.5% above this level. So the world essentially lost 6% growth over the interim period. And it seems unlikely that this will be recovered quickly, given the deleveraging underway by consumers and governments.
Different regions continue to perform at different rates:
• N America (red line) was the weakest performer, in spite of its Asian exports, with volume at 89.5% of the Q1 2007 level.
• The Middle East (brown) continued to run hard on the basis of its advantaged feedstocks, and its volume was up 20.7% versus Q1 2007.
• Asia (blue) recovered strongly following China's stimulus programme, and was up 18.1%.
• W Europe (purple) also recovered due to stimulus programmes, and production was up 4.1%.
• Latin America (green) also recovered, and was up 2%.
• Central Europe (light blue) remained weak, with volume at 93.4% of the 2007 level.