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The decade ahead

Preparing for an unpredictable future in the global chemical industry


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About the report

By 2020, the global chemical industry could face a range of competitive dynamics that differ from today in nature and intensity. As the economy emerges from the Great Recession of 2007–2009, the chemical industry finds itself passing through a period of profound transformation.

To gain deeper insights into the future of the chemical industry, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) Chemical Group and Deloitte Research (United States) developed the report, “The decade ahead: Preparing for an unpredictable future in the global chemical industry”. The report includes an analysis of the financial and operational performance of 231 global public chemical companies between 1998 and 2008, including specialty, commodity, and integrated players. This analysis shows that profitability has suffered in both the commodity and specialty sectors. Profits will continue to decline unless steps are taken to reverse the trend. In the coming decade, established strategies will be an inadequate foundation for success and may not ensure survival. New approaches are required as prerequisites for competitive viability. Naturally, the specifics of these approaches vary by sector.

In addition, the report reviews the predictions, analyses, and commentaries of differing points of view concerning the outlook for the economy, regulation, and technology, which is highlighted in the following three iterations of how the global business environment could unfold between now and 2020:

  • Transition: Western economies suffer inflationary spells followed by hard landings, while the developing world focuses on domestic consumption and enjoys steadier growth. Economic and energy supply issues are higher priorities than emissions control.
  • Resilience: In both developed and developing nations, growth rebounds as governments play an active role in managing their economies, directing investment, and promoting national competitiveness. Renewable energy and nanotechnology are among the top areas targeted for support.
  • Dislocation: Difficult challenges and heavy-handed government policies keep growth subdued in the West. In Asia and the Middle East, the falloff in foreign export demand causes an economic slowdown that leads to social and political unrest.


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Press release: Chemical industry needs new strategies in the next decade to regain profitable growth

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