Polycarbonate capacity worldwide is expected to grow by more than 5% over the next five years, allowing buyers to negotiate price reductions, according to an industry expert.

Speaking at the first annual Global Plastics Summit, which took place earlier this month in Chicago, David Gee, senior analyst at market research firm IHS, commented that the global polycarbonate market is set to increase by 3.2% in 2013, with demand reaching 3.7 million metric tons.

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In terms of regional distribution, Asia is predicted to account for the lion’s share of demand. The largest continent already represents 59% of global polycarbonate demand, with China leading the way. Gee stated that developing economies, such as China and Korea, will be spearheading the market over the examined period. At present there are six new polycarbonate plants being built in the two countries, Plastics Today reported. Meanwhile, the United States is expected to hold a 14% share of the demand, Gee added.

According to IHS research, global operating rates are likely to remain in the 70s, possibly reaching the high 70s, which is expected to cause problems for many global producers of polycarbonate. Costs will be driven mostly by the price of phenol — a major component of engineering plastics. High costs may result in the delay or even cancellation of certain projects, a development that can already be seen in some parts of the world, Gee told attendees at the conference.