PODCAST: Chemicals downturn began in 2017 and has accelerated

Author: Will Beacham


BARCELONA (ICIS)—The downturn for global chemicals began back in December 2017, and has accelerated through the pandemic, coupled with a lack of visibility on future demand patterns.

  • Muted bounce back is underway for chemicals
  • Chemical capacity utilisation has fallen since December 2017
  • Accelerated during pandemic, and has not recovered
  • 2008/9 saw different stimulus to current pandemic
  • 2008/9 China implemented huge package to compensate for collapsed exports
  • Aging populations will now drag on growth
  • Sustainability, affordability now key trends
  • Emerging economies held back by poor export markets, lack of governance
  • China needs to reform its economy to allow a middle class to emerge
  • Coatings hit badly by downturn in commercial property
  • Chemicals must move on from GDP-related demand growth assumptions
  • Forensic focus on new demand patterns can identify opportunities
  • Companies must accept the lack of visibility as a starting point
ACC data shows operating rates falling since late 2017, signs of bounce back

Listen to this podcast interview with John Richardson, ICIS senior consultant, Asia and Paul Hodges, chairman of International eChem.

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Editor’s note: This podcast is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the presenter and interviewees, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.

Interview by Will Beacham