LONDON (ICIS)--EU chemicals production in October rose 1.8% year on year despite a 4.9% fall in petrochemicals output, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) said in its latest Chemicals Trends Report on Thursday.
The sharp decline in petrochemicals was offset by growth in polymers production, which rose 7.1% year on year, and a 2.7% increase in output of specialty chemicals, while consumer chemicals grew 1.4% and basic inorganics rose 0.2%.
Over the first ten months of 2013, however, overall chemicals production fell by 0.6% year on year. EU chemicals production over the first ten months also remains 6.9% lower than the pre-crisis, full-year level reached in 2007.
“The recovery in the EU chemical industry remains fragile since pulling out of recession in the second quarter 2013,” Brussels-based Cefic said.
The Chemicals Trends Report also showed that chemical producer prices in October were 3% lower than in the same month of 2012, while producer prices for the first ten months were 0.6% lower.Data also show that EU chemical sales for the first three quarters of 2013 were 3.7% lower than in the same period in 2012, Cefic said.
Employment in the chemicals industry remains stable after the sharp decrease it suffered during the 2008-2009 crisis resulting in levels of employment 10% lower than in 2007, it added.
The EU chemicals net trade surplus stood at €37.9bn for the period January-September 2013, €863m more than in the same period in 2012, the report also showed.
The surplus was led by a €11.9bn positive trade balance with non-EU countries in Europe and a €5.6bn surplus with Asia, although the trade surplus with China decreased from €920m to €760m. Meanwhile, the US narrowed its trade deficit with the EU by €1.7bn to €5.1bn.
Cefic’s chemicals confidence indicator (CCI) improved in November 2013 compared to the previous month on the back of positive developments of order book levels, the trade body added.
“The confidence reading for the sector in November was above the long-term average, measured from 2005 to 2012, for the third consecutive month,” Cefic said.
Meanwhile, capacity utilisation in the EU increased from 78.1% in the second quarter of 2013 to 79.3% in the third.