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EU chemical industry on the verge of collapse, Ineos boss warns

March 11, 2014
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<photocredit>Ineos Founder and Chairman Jim Ratcliffe. Some rights reserved by The CBI.</photocredit>

The European chemical industry is in grave danger and a large part of it might close down within the next 10 years, Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of chemical giant Ineos, has warned in an open letter to Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.

Ratcliffe called for immediate measures from politicians in an effort to revive the sector and improve its competitiveness with chemical producers from Asia and the United States. Unless the EU chemical industry undergoes urgent changes about 6 million jobs will be lost over the next decade, including 1 million direct and 1 million indirect jobs, he claimed.

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The chemical industry is essential for Europe, sharing the leading position with the automotive industry, with each of them worth about $1 trillion. Chemicals are key for many other industries and if the EU chemical industry continues to suffer, other industries will soon be affected as well, Ratcliffe noted.

The biggest problem is that chemical manufacturing is heavily reliant on energy, and costs are up to three times higher in Europe than they are in the United States. There are no cheap feedstocks in Europe and feedstock costs in the United States and the Middle East are "in another league," the chairman of Ineos said, adding that the situation was affecting even the largest European producers, causing "closure after closure."

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