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Despite recessionary years in 1990 and 199 1, West European demand for specialty silicas has increased at an average annual rate of 8% per year over the past five years, according to a study by Kline & Company.

In 1991, total European demand reached $425 million for eight silica products: colloidal, fumed, fused, highpurity ground, high-purity quartz, precipitated, micronized gel and nonmicronized gel.

These silicas, which include both synthetically manufactured products as well as natural minerals, are used in the rubber and plastics industry. They impart such unique functions as reinforcement, thickening or electrical properties to these applications.

The rubber industry is the largest consumer of specialty silicas in Western Europe, accounting for almost 30% of the total dollar value by end use. Demand for silicas in rubber is very mature and will grow the least rapidly over the next five years, at an average annual rate of 1%.

Geographically, Germany is the most important market for specialty silica products. The country accounts for almost one third of the total volume sold in Western Europe and is particularly strong in its use of precipitated silicas and silicates, fumed silica, silica gel and high-purity quartz. France and United Kingdom each account for 15% of the European volume, followed by Italy with 13%.

Over the next five years, Eastern Europe will emerge as a significant market for specialty silicas, according to the study. In particular the rubber industry is well developed in Eastern Europe and offers opportunities for suppliers of precipitated silicas. As Eastern European coating producers adopt formulations used in the west, demand for fumed silica, silica gel and precipitated silica will increase, the study says.

The West European specialty silica market is supplied by more than 30 companies, and the top ten account for more than 85% of the market value. Degussa is credited with roughly one-third of volume sales, principally for fumed silica, precipitated silica and precipitated silicates.

* A common chemical found in the backing of most U.S. made carpets has been blamed for ill effects and death among laboratory mice exposed to samples. In tests conducted in August 1992, a contract laboratory in Massachusetts exposed lab mice to air circulated over heated carpet samples and found ill effects among the animals. 4Phenylcyclohexene, or 4-PCH - most often associated with "new carpet odor" - is the substance blamed for the problems. In response, researchers appointed by the Styrene Butadiene Latex Manufacturers Council conducted three rounds of new tests and found the exposure caused no health effects to any of the animals, even at levels more than 1,000 times higher than measured after new carpet installation, according to a report filed with the EPA. These studies are said to constitute the most rigorous and detailed testing conducted by any group regarding 4-PCH exposure, the industry group said. Based upon these results and other available data, researchers are convinced that the effects described by the Massachusetts lab cannot be attributed to 4-PCH, the statement said.

* Auto International Association, a U.S. industry trade group, has begun to regularly monitor product pricing by foreign original equipment (OE) manufacturers to identify instances of potential "dumping" in the U.S. market. U.S. law prohibits dumping, which AIA defines as being evidenced by sales of foreign goods in the U.S. at prices substantially below prices charged in the foreign home market and U.S. industry is harmed.

The association is responding to members' concerns over the recurrent pattern of underpriced imported OE items recently appearing on the U.S. market, a press release from the association stated. Although AIA has taken action in the past to fight unfair trade protection, it has only occasionally addressed unfair pricing of specific OE products and product categories. Independent aftermarket importers have recently noted an increase in cases where foreign OE pricing in the U.S. is so much lower than the product price in the foreign home market that predatory dumping appears the only likely explanation, a statement from AIA said.

The program will initially focus on product categories of immediate concern, such as brake rotors, air filters, timing belts and brake and wheel cylinders. The association will gather relevant information and investigate whether product pricing represents a potential dumping situation. If unfair pricing continues even after the information has been presented to the industry, then AIA will then determine whether an antidumping suit is warranted.

. Indonesia's footwear exports are positioned for growth during the next few years, according to a recent prediction by Francisus Welirang, chairman of the Indonesian Footwear Manufacturers Association. For the first ten months of 1992, footwear exports totaled $1.2 billion and could reach $1.6 billion for the full year - an increase of nearly 61% over the $994 million achieved in 1991. Over the next five years, Welirang predicted that exports could reach between $3 and $4 billion.

Driven by massive relocation of shoe plants from Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, shoes have become Indonesia's third largest export item after textiles and wood products. Some 45% are exported to the United States, 43% to Europe and the balance to Asian countries, according to a report in the Indonesia Development News quarterly.

* Sales of foreign tires in Japan will grow to 15.1 million units in 1993, up 3.4% from 1992 levels, according to a forecast by the Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers' Association. In 1992, imports were up 1.9% to 14.6 million units compared to the previous year.

Of this year's projected total, passenger tires - which account for more than 80% of demand - are expected to increase 3.1% to 12.4 million units, up from 12 million units in 1992. Truck tires, with 5.5% share of demand, are expected to grow 1% to 840,000 units. Others, including motorcycle tires, are expected to grow 6.3% to nearly 1.9 million units. Imports as a percentage of total domestic demand are expected to increase 11% from the 10.4% projected in 1992. By product type, passenger tire share will increase to 14.1%, up from 13.3% last year.
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Title Annotation:includes multiple briefs
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Contracts, licenses.
Next Article:Worldwide SR consumption to reach 10.8 mmt.

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