The industry continues to grow in 2016, but the slowdown in key markets like China and Brazil could have a negative impact on some key subsectors.
- Payments take between 30 days and 60 days on average
- Growth expected to continue in 2016
- Increasing competition from Asia and the Middle East
The Swedish chemicals industry is a strong and expanding trade sector, accounting for around 34,000 full-time jobs and consisting of about 1,000 companies in 2015. The ten largest businesses and corporates account for more than 50% of employees. Chemicals accounted for 16% of total Swedish exports in 2015 (about EUR 12 billion), and as one of the basic industries, it provides an important foundation for other industries and industrial development.
While overseas demand has been the main driver of the Swedish chemical output in the past few years, Swedish chemicals companies are now increasingly facing new competition from the Middle East and Asia.
2016 is expected to be another satisfying year for the industry, with a value added sector growth rate of 0.4%. Growth in 2017 is forecast to accelerate to 1.9%. Swedish chemicals businesses will benefit from another year of low oil prices, as many companies rely on oil-derived raw materials, especially in the plastics and rubber subsectors. Higher demand from Europe and the US is expected to partly compensate for the decline in other markets. But the slowdown in emerging economies like China and Brazil could reduce growth in key chemicals customer sectors such as agriculture and personal care, impacting some major Swedish chemicals businesses.
Compared to other Swedish business sectors, the general equity, solvency and liquidity strengths of chemicals companies continue to remain above average. Profit margins are good and expected to remain stable in the coming months, while banks are generally willing to provide loans to the industry. Payments take between 30 days and 60 days on average, and payment behaviour within the sector is generally good, with a low level of protracted payments. The insolvency level is low, and no increase in business failures in expected in 2016.
Given the generally good financial health of Swedish chemicals buyers and low insolvency rate, our underwriting stance remains relaxed for the time being.