The UK will this year fail to cash in on general growth in the European chemical industry because of high interest rates and the value of sterling.
According to forecasts presented at the annual Cefic (European chemical industry council) Economic Conference last week, the UK will show zero growth in chemicals production during 1997, compared to a figure in excess of 4% for Europe as a whole.
Germany, France and the Benelux countries are enjoying solid growth.
The forecasts for this year show output growth for the European chemical industry could be closer to 5% if pharmaceuticals is excluded – where growth has decelerated following cuts in public health budgets.
The best performing sub-sectors were basic industrial chemicals: inorganics, organics and basic plastics.
Chemical prices within Europe have however remained flat, with overall modest growth – around 1% – mainly attributable to price increases for exports outside of Europe.
Cumulative to May, statistics indicate a 6% growth rate in the volume of exports outside of the European Union, but 12% in value. Extra-European exports of chemicals currently account for as much as 22% of EU chemicals sales, compared to 18% in 1990.