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Trump Mar17

4.5 million tonnes of new US polyethylene exports on front-line as War of Words hits US-China trade

“There isn’t anybody who knows what is going to happen in the next 12 months. We’ve never been here before. Things are out of control. I have never seen a situation like it.” This comment last month from former UK Finance Minister, Ken Clarke, aptly summarises the uncertainty facing the global economy. As I note in a new analysis, major policy changes are […]

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Force majeures hit new record high as safety loses out to profits

Just when you think something really can’t get any worse, it does.  Sadly, that’s the story on chemical industry force majeures since my last half-year review.  As I noted then: “There is no such thing as an accident. The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality […]

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FT

No conspiracy on raw materials pricing – the business model has changed

The Financial Times kindly prints my letter this morning on pricing policies for polyethylene. Sir, Conspiracy theories are always good fun, and Robert Bateman’s views on the polyethylene market are no exception (Letters, December 29). But there is a much more prosaic explanation for the pricing structures he describes. The key issue is that until […]

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Industry needs new strategy to spread benefits of globalisation

The Brexit vote, and Donald Trump’s election, confirm that we are in a New Normal world.  In the interview below with Will Beacham, Deputy editor of ICIS Chemical Business, I highlight some ideas about how industry needs to adapt. BARCELONA (ICIS)–The global chemical sector needs to stimulate demand for innovative products and services in mature […]

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Chemical company results highlight growing weakness down the value chains

Looking down the table below of chemical company’s reports, its hard to be very optimistic about the outlook. The first half of the year disappointed, as I noted in August.  Then Q3 saw major volatility as the hedge funds and high frequency traders played their games in the oil market – prices weakened as demand […]

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World Aromatics Conference focuses on key industry challenges

The 15th World Aromatics & Derivatives Conference take place in Vienna in 2 weeks’ time on 22 – 23 November. Co-organised as always with ICIS, we will benefit from the insight of key executives from the global industry including: THE OUTLOOK FOR AROMATICS Shell’s Commercial Manager, Europe, on feedstock and product availability China’s CICCC on what […]

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Global demand slowdown hits chemical industry results

Its not been a great 6 months for the global chemical industry, and my usual quarterly survey of company results confirms the disappointment. The first half of the year is typically the strongest, for seasonal reasons, as companies come back to work after the Christmas holiday and prepare for the peak car-buying and construction periods […]

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Force majeures at all-time highs even before downturn begins

There is no such thing as an accident.  The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality Management techniques.  Yet it seems that over the past 18 months either this important fact has been forgotten or, more likely, I fear, has simply been ignored. The evidence for […]

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ACS webinar on Brexit and the challenges of over-supply

Chemistry and the Economy: 2016 Mid-year review The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) is causing major upheaval in financial markets as investors rush to supposedly “safe havens”. This is highlighting the underlying slowdown in demand growth caused by globally ageing populations. What does this mean for the chemical and pharma industry? Can […]

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US polypropylene imports rise as China aims for self-sufficiency

Difficult times lie ahead for global polymer markets, as I note in a new analysis for ICIS Chemical Business. In the short-term it is clear that downstream users have, once again, been busy building stock in recent weeks as the oil price rose. But now, finance directors are getting calls from their bankers asking about […]

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