EU chemicals output down 3.5% in Q4, down 0.7% in 2018, trade deficit with China grows

Author: Nigel Davis


LONDON (ICIS)--EU chemicals output dropped sharply in the second half of 2018, falling by 1.2% in third quarter and 3.5% in the fourth quarter year on year, Cefic said on Thursday.

“Chemicals output continues to decline as the global economy slows down,” the European chemicals trade federation said in its monthly Chemicals Trends Report.

For the full year, EU chemicals output was 0.7% lower compared with 2017.

However, producer prices for the year were up 3.7%, helping to lift 2018 total sales (EU domestic sales plus exports) by 3.3%, or €18.2bn, to €576.9bn.

The annual data show that growth in EU petrochemical exports to the US rose last year by €1.3bn, helping to raise total EU chemicals exports to the US by 10.3% to €31.8bn.

Petrochemical exports to China were down 12.5% while consumer chemicals exports to China were up 27.1%. Overall EU chemical exports climbed from €155.2bn in 2017 to €161.8bn in 2018.

The EU chemicals trade surplus shrank by €3.2bn in 2018 to €45.2bn, however, largely on the drop in petrochemicals sales to China and much stronger imports (from China) of petrochemicals, polymers and speciality chemicals.

The petrochemicals trade deficit with China was €3.3bn. The overall EU chemicals trade balance with China shifted significantly, Cefic noted, from a surplus (+1.3bn) in 2017 to a deficit of €881m in 2018.

EU chemical imports were up €9.8bn, or 9.2%, at €116.6bn. Petrochemical imports from to US rose by €368m and polymer imports increased also. Chemicals imports from China were up €2.5bn.

Charts: Cefic

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