The European Union’s (EU’s) chemicals market has contracted in 2020. According to Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS), this contraction has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns restricting industrial activity, and reduced consumer goods demand. The market was examined by Nigel Davis, an insights editor with ICIS. The EU chemicals trade relies on globalization and broad-based tariff reductions. The emerging markets are expected to play a key role in future demand growth for the European chemical industry, particularly markets in Africa and Vietnam, a country that recently signed a trade agreement with the EU. However, those markets are being impacted severely by the health crisis, as many countries around the world have seen citizens slipping into poverty as financial resources have become more strained.

The EU chemicals trade has seen exports drop $2.7 billion in the first five months of 2020. Petrochemical exports to the US are up €2.3 billion, but specialty and consumer chemicals are down. Exports to China were €6.3 billion and 1.2 percent higher than in a similar period last year. Overall chemical exports were down two consecutive months in April and May and, according to Cefic, a European chemicals industry group, there’s no clear indication of recovery in the area of European chemical exports.

ICIS, London, England, provides information on commodities markets, particularly petrochemicals.