The 2013 outlook for the global chemical industry — a $3 trillion enterprise that impacts virtually every other sector of the economy — is the topic of the cover story in this week’s edition of Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Titled “World Chemical Outlook” and compiled by a team of 10 editors and correspondents, the annual feature forecasts chemical industry growth rates in various regions, including a modest 1.9 percent increase in the United States (compared to 1.5 percent growth in 2012) and a 0.5 percent increase in Europe (an improvement from the 2.0 percent contraction in 2012).
The story describes several bright spots dotting that generally overcast landscape. U.S. chemical manufacturers, for instance, can look forward to another year of low-priced natural gas to fuel their facilities and provide cheap raw materials. Producers of “fine chemicals,” highly pure substances produced in relatively small amounts for medications, pesticides and other products, should do better than the industry as a whole. Likewise, makers of scientific instruments for the energy, environmental, forensics and food markets also are upbeat about 2013 sales.