Europe chems outlook still bright despite bearish Q2 season - Cefic

Author: Morgan Condon

2019/07/18

LONDON (ICIS)--Despite the bleak, short-term economic outlook, European chemicals will be pivotal in resolving global challenges and can still thrive as urbanisation and middle class growth continue at pace, according to trade group Cefic.

The trade group’s director general Marco Mensink spoke to ICIS in Paris earlier in July and argued that the current economic climate would not shake the trade group’s longer-term ambitions.

Despite pressures from the economy, with major chemicals companies warning of weaker second quarter results and the ongoing tensions from the US-China trade war hampering global trade, Cefic’s long-term outlook remains positive.

“The chemical industry is a cyclical industry. Growth may be slowing down now but it will pick up next year. The bottom line is that the overall situation is stable, the population keeps on growing and so is demand for consumer goods – and hence chemicals,” said Mensink.

“For the long-term perspective, there is no change in direction.”

He went on to say that the current trade disputes were “unfortunate”, but added that the economic fundamentals were healthy.

“The expectations that chemicals [output] will still double in the next years will not change either [despite the current slowdown],” concluded Mensink.

Cefic’s director general made his remarks on the sidelines of the annual convention of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) held in Paris on 5-12 July.

Academics and figures from the chemical industry met to discuss how the sector would face topics like the relationship between chemistry and society, as well how chemicals could best work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Cefic’s president Daniele Ferrari, who is also the CEO of Italy's petrochemicals producer Versalis, addressed delegates at the IUPAC convention to discuss what Cefic’s role would be in tackling new challenges over the coming decades, outlining the trade group’s mid-century vision.

The eight-point plan acts as a foundation for how the European chemicals sector can work towards a circular economy and environmental targets via digitalisation and industry.

“This is about Europe being the leader in providing solutions to global challenges, on an international scale,” said Ferrari.

“We must sustain these innovative efforts, and make sure that solutions for climate change and circular economy are developed in Europe, rather than imported.”

Meeting sustainability targets in a world where the population and energy demands are expected to soar will require a combined effort from authorities, industry and society, he concluded.

Focus article by Morgan Condon