FAIRLAWN, Ohio—Overall world demand for silicones is expected to grow at a rate of 6 percent per year to 2017 to just under $19 billion.
Kent Furst, manager of the Freedonia Group's polymers and materials department, said this growth rate is a notable increase compared to the 2007-12 period. Furst gave the keynote address May 20 during the 2014 International Silicone Conference at the Hilton Inn in Fairlawn.
According to Furst, the increased demand is primarily because of improved outlooks in North America and western Europe, which experienced significant downturns due to recessions in the latter part of the 2000s.
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to continue to be the largest market for silicones in the world. Furst said it is projected to account for more than 40 percent of global demand on value and will be the fastest growing region.
Silicone prices on average are expected to grow at a slower pace in compared to the 2007-12 period, Furst said.
GDP in all world regions grew at a steady pace from 2002-07 until the onset of the global financial crisis, which Furst said triggered recessions in most parts of the world. The notable exception was China, which continued to see double digit GDP growth even in 2009.
Most economies have recovered since the recession, but Furst said it was not as big as initially projected. The sovereign debt crisis led to a double dip recession in many western European countries.
“We're expecting a rebound to positive growth in all major (European) markets, although growth will remain the slowest of any world region” Furst said. “Because of the continued economic weakness in 2013, our previous growth forecast might be tempered to some extent.”
Through 2017, Furst projects that global GDP will grow by 4 percent per year and most world regions will return to the normal growth since prior to the recession.
China and India are two markets to watch as Furst labeled them as the world's fastest growing silicone economies, even if the growth will be tempered over the next five years.
“The silicone market in China will rise at a slower rate, more closely following GDP,” Furst said. “However, China will remain the world's fastest growing silicone market and will overtake the U.S. as the world's largest consumer of silicones in valued terms.”