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Worldwide use of synthetic rubber to grow by 2%.

Worldwide synthetic rubber (SR) consumption will rise by 2% to 10.7 million metric tons in 1999, according to statistics released by the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers (IISRP).

Consumption in 1998, however, will show only flat growth with consumption of 10.4 million metric tons.

The IISRP also forecasts that over the next five-year period - 1999 through 2003 - SR consumption should continue to average a moderate growth rate of 2.7% per annum for a total increase of 14% to 11.9 mmt by 2003.

Of the world's major consuming regions, Western Europe recorded the greatest growth in 1998, rising by 5.4% to 2,670 thousands of tons (kt), according to Britt D. Theismann, IISRP information and systems director.

"In the lesser consuming regions," he added, "Central Europe continued to show high growth, increasing by 8.4% to 375 kt."

Other regions also recorded significant growth in SR use in 1998, Theismann said. North America extended its economic expansion in 1998 with an increase of 3.1% to 3,293 kt.

The Asian economic crisis was evident in the Far East in 1998, with consumption decreasing by 8.3% in Asia and Oceania. "Use in China, where growth has consistently run between seven and ten percent, decreased by .8%," Theismann said.

In Latin America, the Brazilian economic crisis halted the high SR growth rates of recent years. Consumption fell by 4.0% last year.

In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), where the future is uncertain until political and economic stability are reestablished, SR use dropped again in 1998, this time by another 11.1%.

EP rubbers fastest growing

In reporting growth by elastomer type in 1998, Theismann said ethylene propylene rubber (EPR, both EPM and EPDM) increased the most, growing by 3.2% to 814 kt.

He reported consumption of other synthetic robbers in 1998 as follows:

* Styrene butadiene (SBR), stable at 0.8% at 3,300 kt;

* polybutadiene (BR), down by 3.4% to 1,905 kt mainly due to significant decreases in Asia and Oceania, China and Latin America (other regions saw increases in BR);

* Acrylonitrile butadiene (NBR), flat at -0.2% at 320 kt;

* polychloropene (CR), which remained affected by substitution, down by 4.7% to 294 kt;

* so-called "other" rubbers, predominately polyisoprene (IR) and butyl (IIR), increasing slightly by 0.8% to 1,131 kt.

All regions to grow

Theismann said all geographic regions are expected to show gains in SR use over the coming five-year period. "After a negative year of growth in 1998, China is expected to resume its growth at an impressive 9.0% to nearly 1,098 kt in 2003," he added. "In Asia and Oceania, we're forecasting an annual growth rate of 2.6% to 2,413 kt in 2003.

The situation in the CIS remains uncertain. "Our forecast calls for an annual average growth rate of 2.4%, but the rate will depend on economic stabilization in the region," Theismann said.

Growth in Central Europe is optimistic. It should average 4.6% to 470 kt by 2003.

In Western Europe, consumption is expected to grow more slowly over the next five years. It is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.9% to 2,940 kt in 2003. In the Middle East and Africa, predictions call for a growth rate of 2.4% annually to 250 kt in 2003.

In the Americas, Latin America should increase use at a more moderate rate of 2.4% to 743 kt in 2003, while in North America consumption should rise at an annual rate of 1.5% to 3,555 kt in 2003.

Theismann said use of all elastomer types should grow over the next five years as follows:

* EPR (EP(D)M) should rise 3.8% per annum to 980 kt in 2003;

* NBR to post annual average increases of 3.3% to 375 kt;

* SBR to record an annual growth rate of 2.9% to 3,813 kt;

* BRs to climb an average of 2.5% to reach 2,153 kt;

* CR to increase at a 1.7% annual rate to 321 kt.

The IISRP also forecasts that consumption of natural rubber (NR) over the five-year term should rise 2.4 percent annually, with higher than normal growth rates in Asia & Oceania, China, Central Europe and the CIS. In Western Europe and North America, NR use should increase moderately at around 1.2 and 1.3% annually to 1,150 and 1,300, respectively.

Pointing out that the IISRP views thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) as a "below-the-line" item in its long-term forecast, Theismann said worldwide use of TPEs is expected to increase from 1,310 kt in 1998 to 1,701 kt in 2003, reflecting an average annual increase of 5.4%. In North America, TPE use should increase at an annual rate of 5.0% to 614 kt in 2003, while in Latin America, consumption is expected to expand annually by 1.4% to 22 kt. In Western Europe, use should grow at an annual rate of 4.0% to 450 kt in 2003, and in Asia and Oceania, it should register an annual average increase of 3.7% to 206 kt by 2003. Consumption of TPEs in China (reported by the IISRP for the first time as a separate line item) should increase by 9.0% to 400 kt in 2003.

The IISRP is an international not-for-profit trade association with 50 corporate members domiciled in 20 countries who produce 90% of the world supply of synthetic rubber. The annual forecast is based on worldwide industry data compiled by the Institute's regional statistical committees.
Table 1 - SR consumption by region

Synthetic rubber (1)
Region 1997 1998 1999 2000

North America 3,193 3,293 3,325 3,555
Western Europe 2,533 2,670 2,718 2,940
Asia & Oceania 2,314 2,123 2,160 2,413
Latin America 686 659 658 743
Middle East & Africa 214 222 226 250
Central Europe 346 375 396 470
Commonwealth of
Independent States 450 400 400 450
China/Asia CPEC (2) 719 713 783 1,098
Total 10,455 10,454 10,664 11,918


(1) Excludes thermoplastic elastomers

(2) Centrally planned economy countries

(3) Excludes consumption by producing countries
Table 2 - NR consumption by region

Natural rubber(3)
Region 1997 1998 1999 2000

North America 1,179 1,219 1,234 1,300
Western Europe 1,005 1,082 1,100 1,150
Asia & Oceania 2,386 2,601 2,714 3,093
Latin America 294 301 308 333
Middle East & Africa 200 205 215 230
Central Europe 120 130 140 165
Commonwealth of 75 60 60 75
 Independent States
China/Asia CPEC (2) 870 900 920 980
Total 6,129 6,498 6,691 7,326


(1) Excludes thermoplastic elastomers

(2) Centrally planned economy countries

(3) Excludes consumption by producing countries
Table 3 - new rubber consumption by region (000 metric tons)

Total rubber
Region 1997 1998 1999 2000

North America 4,372 4,512 4,559 4,855
Western Europe 3,538 3,752 3,818 4,090
Asia & Oceania 4,700 4,724 4,874 5,506
Latin America 981 960 966 1,077
Middle East & Africa 414 427 441 480
Central Europe 466 505 536 635
Commonwealth of 525 460 460 525
 Independent States
China/Asia CPEC 1,589 1,613 1,703 2,078
Total 16,585 16,952 17,356 19,244
Table 4 - new rubber consumption by type worldwide

Product 1997 1998 1999 2000

SBR solid 3,275 3,300 3,379 3,813
SBR latex 426 439 447 483
Carboxylated latex 1,755 1,814 1,846 2,029
Polybutadiene 1,972 1,905 1,957 2,153
Ethylene propylene 788 814 836 980
Polychloroprene 309 294 299 321
Nitrile solid 320 320 323 375
Nitrile latex 37 37 37 37
Other synthetics 1,123 1,131 1,141 1,277
China/Asia CPEC

Total SR 450 400 400 450
Total synthetic rubber 10,455 10,454 10,664 11,918
Natural rubber 6,129 6,498 6,691 7,326
Total new rubber 16,585 16,952 17,356 19,244
Synthetic percent 63.0% 61.7% 61.4% 61.9%
TPEs 1,236 1,310 1,395 1,701
Thousand metric tons
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Publication:Rubber World
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Words:1385
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