Global demand for bearings will nearly double over the next 10 years, fuelled by a recovery in developing markets, according to market research firm Freedonia.
The market is forecast to increase from US$30bn (£19bn) last year to $57bn in 2008.
Growth will be highest in the Far East, with demand in China up 192% to $8.8bn in 2008. Eastern Europe should also have strong growth. More developed markets, such as Western Europe, the US and Japan, are expected to grow more slowly.
UK demand may even fall, says a report by another market research firm, MBD. A slowdown in the automotive sector, which accounts for 60% of demand, will lead to a 4% drop in the bearings market here.
But the UK is expected to remain a net exporter of bearings, with production running £165m ahead of demand in 2003.
The biggest growth market for bearings in the UK will be in plain and roller bearings. MBD predicts ball bearings sales will decline in value from £125m in 1999 to £80m in 2003.
Worldwide, Freedonia predicts the `other bearings and parts’ sector, which includes more added-value products, will grow slightly faster than the roller or ball bearings sectors.
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