Global shipments of chemicals, pharmaceuticals grew 1% year-over-year to US$4.97T in 2012, with chemical shipments down or flat in all regions except for Asia-Pacific, as chemicals market hit with lagging economic growth, chemicals demand

September 26, 2013 () – The ICIS Top 100 list in 2012 shows minor changes from the 2011 ranking due to lagging economic growth and chemicals demand. The top 100 cut-off is now just more than $3.5 bn in annual sales. Most companies struggled to promote sales and margins due to unfavorable economic conditions and higher oil-based feedstock costs, respectively. The top global chemical producer of 2012 is still BASF, relying heavily on its oil and gas segment. The list sees major petrochemical and polyolefin producers emerge in the ranking. China's Sinopec grew significantly from placing 29th in 2002 to being 2nd in 2012. Over the same period, Saudi Arabia-based SABIC also moved from the 14th to the 5th position. BASF, Dow Chemical, DuPont, ExxonMobil and Mitsubishi Chemical are also included among the top 10 producers. The Chinese market has shown falling chemical demand in recent years posting a major challenge to large producers. US and European markets have also weakened due to slow economic recovery. Shipments of chemicals and pharmaceuticals reached $4.97 trillion in 2012, posting a dismal growth of 1.1% compared with 19.8% in 2011. Chemical shipments for 2012 went up only in the Asia-Pacific, all the other regions posting flat or lower shipments. According to BASF, the 3.8% to 2.6% sink in chemical production from 2011 to 2012 is mainly caused by weak 1H 2012 growth in the emerging markets in Asia. In contrast, North American markets continue to post strong metrics, especially in the petrochemicals and polymers industry, due to its current ethane feedstock advantage. That feedstock advantage is drawing ammonia, methanol and other gas based processes investments towards the region. Capacities of a line of chemical intermediates are set to grow gradually in China, whereas olefins capacities are projected to rise in Asia and in the Middle East. Total sales of the ICIS Top 100 dropped by 0.8% in 2012 compared with 2011. The Top 10 companies account for 37% of the total Top 100 sales despite a 4.0% sales slip in 2012. While petrochemical and speciality chemicals industries tried hard to cope with economic pressure, fertilizers and industrial gases producers displayed healthier margins and growths. New entrants in the list include the Australian fertilizer and explosives producer Incitec Pivot as well as the largest global producer of polystyrene and other styrene-based polymers, Styrolution. Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity propelled some market players in the Top 100 2012 ranking. Original Source: ICIS Chemical Business, http://www.icis.com/, Copyright Reed Business Information Limited 2013.

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