The polycarbonate market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 4% during the forecast period. The factors driving the growth of the market studied are the growing demand from the medical industry and the increasing popularity of polycarbonate against conventional materials, such as glass and acrylic.
- On the flip side, apart from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the various end-user industries' growth and the supply chain disruptions, the declining automotive industry, will hinder the growth of the market studied.
- Unique applications in automotive glazing and electrical and electronics is likely to act as an opportunity in the future.
- Asia-Pacific dominated the market across the globe due to the increasing demand from construction activities.
Key Market Trends
Electrical and Electronics Segment to Dominate the Market
- In the electrical and electronics industry, polycarbonates are used to make numerous corresponding equipment. Some of the most common parts include the switching relays, sensor parts, LCD sections, connectors, cell phones, and computers, among others, owing to their light weight and high impact strength. Hollow polycarbonates are perfect thermal insulators, making them a preferred choice in most wire insulation applications in the electrical and electronics industry.
- Polycarbonate sheets are used in electrical accessories, hardware gadgets, and optical plates. Growing demand for more innovative and technologically advanced products is expected to augment the market growth.
- The demand for spike temperature resistance, high service temperature, ductility and toughness in thin sections, and non-flammability features in the material being used in electrical and electronics has further increased the demand for polycarbonate, since it is capitalized on its collective safety features. Further, polycarbonate materials fulfill quality and safety requirements, such as heat resistance and electrical insulation.
- The light-weight, and impact and shatter-resistant qualities make polycarbonates a perfect choice for housing cell phones, computers, electrical chargers, fax machines, pagers, connectors, battery boxes, and others, as they efficiently withstand collision with a hard surface and/or scratches that may occur in everyday use.
- The global consumer electronics industry has been growing rapidly across the world over the years, owing to the consistently increasing demand for cellular phones, portable computing devices, gaming systems, and other personal electronic devices.
- The Asia-Pacific electronic industry grew rapidly in the recent past, owing to the high demand from countries, like India and China. China is a strong, favorable market for electronics producers, owing to the country’s low labor cost and flexible policies. Also, the Indian electronics market is expected to reach USD 400 billion by 2025. Additionally, India is expected to become the fifth-largest consumer electronics and appliances industry in the world by 2025.
- Despite the migration of a significant proportion of the production to low-cost facilities, the European and North American electrical and electronics production is expected to lead by high-end product mix. Industrial, medical, communication, and defense are some of the key sectors demanding high-end quality products, and they are expected to offer new opportunities for various companies over the forecast period.
- In North America, especially in the United States, the electronics industry is expected to grow at a moderate rate. An increase in the demand for new technological products is expected to help the market expand in the future.
- The German electronic industry is Europe’s biggest and the fifth-largest, globally. The electrical and electronics industry accounted for 11% of the total German industrial production and about 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Germany was estimated to increase electronics production by 1% with total sales exceeding EUR 200 billion in 2019, according to the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI).
- However, the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the electrical and electronics industry by disrupting the electronics components manufacturing and supply parts unit. The lockdown, followed by the strict guidelines and delay in shipments of the components, has completely halted the production section. This has further affected the market studied due to impact on electricals and electronics sector. But, recovery in manufacturing activities is expected in the latter half of the forecast period, which is likely to restore the growth trajectory, further benefiting the market studied.
China to Dominate the Asia-Pacific Market
- In Asia-Pacific, China is the largest economy in terms of GDP. The growth rate of the GDP in China was 6.7% in 2018 and 6.1% in 2019. The trade war with the United States has a significant impact on trade. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have a huge impact on the economy, as the economic growth of China is now expected to contract to a considerable extent. The IMF has cut the nation’s GDP growth forecast to about 5.6%, on account of assumptions that the outbreak was only limited to China. However, as it is not the case currently, the GDP growth of the nation for 2020 is expected to decline further.
- With the onset of COVID-19, the economic and industrial manufacturing activities have been affected significantly in the country. On the bright side, as of March 2020, China lifted the lockdown in the country, and it has resumed various industrial operations, while other countries are still aggressively engaged in lockdowns and treatments. Hence, from the above-mentioned factors, the demand in the market studied in China is likely to be affected in the short run. The industrial demand is expected to normalize from 2021.
- The construction industry is one of the largest industries in the country. The sector has witnessed a significant growth even in the middle of an economic crisis. This is due to the country’s belief that infrastructure investment is an option to boost economic growth during slowdown. Similar kinds of investments are expected in the construction industry to push the economic growth back to recovery post COVID-19. The construction activity in the country resumed from April, after implementation of lockdown when almost all industries were shut down in January.
- According to the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese government approved 26 infrastructure projects at an estimated investment of about USD 142 billion in 2019, which are estimated to be completed by 2023. The growing demand for housing is likely to drive the residential construction in the country, both in the public and private sectors. The new hotel projects in the country increased by about 15% in 2019; the increase in construction of tall buildings and hotels is driving the market studied.
- The Chinese automotive manufacturing industry is the largest in the world, with a production share of just over 28% in 2019. The industry witnessed a slowdown in 2018, wherein the production and sales declined. A similar trend continued in 2019, with the production declining to 25.7 million vehicles, dropping by about 7.5% year-on-year.
- China is the largest consumer of electric vehicles, and in 2019 alone, there were about 1.2 million new electric vehicle registrations, up by 3% compared to 2018, which is very low compared to the growth rate of more than 75% for the past four years. There were about 2,000 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on road in China, by the end of 2019. The Chinese government is planning to have a minimum of 5,000 fuel cell electric vehicles by 2025 and 1 million by 2030. The government promoting the use of electric, hybrid, and fuel cell electric vehicles is expected to drive the market.
- China is one of the largest manufacturers of aircrafts and one of the largest markets for domestic air passengers. According to the International Air Transport Association, IATA, the domestic air passengers in China in 2018 were 515 million, which is expected to cross 600 million by 2020. The high demand for aviation has led to the government decision of introducing an airport building program, which includes huge investments in terminals and runways. As of May 2019, China comprised of approximately 235 airports, which the government plans to increase by 260 in 2020. Besides, the government’s long-term targets remain around 450 airports for the country by 2035. The aircraft parts and assembly manufacturing sector in the country is growing at a rapid pace, with the presence of over 200 small aircraft parts manufacturers.
- China is the largest base for electronics production in the world. Electronic products, such as smartphones, TVs, wires, cables, portable computing devices, gaming systems, and other personal electronic devices recorded the highest growth in the electronics segment. The country serves not only the domestic demand for electronics, but also exports electronic output to other countries. In China, with the increase in the disposable income of the middle-class population and the rising demand for electronic products from countries importing electronic products from China, the production of electronics is projected to grow. With the growing electronics and construction industry, the demand for polycarbonate is expected to increase.
- The medical device market in China is one of the fastest growing market sectors and was estimated to cross over USD 95 billion by the end of 2020. The number of private hospitals in the country is relatively small and the healthcare product procurement is majorly driven by large public hospitals, which has led to the increasing usage of medical devices in public hospitals, and thus, has stimulated the demand for polycarbonate in the sector. In 2019, the Chinese health expenditure was recorded to be ~USD 750 billion, which accounted for ~5.3% of the country’s GDP. The medical device market in China has been witnessing strong growth with a growing number of hospitals and increasing demand for medical assistance. According to the China Association for Medical Device Industry, the medical device market size was recorded to be around ~USD 80 billion in 2019. About 70% of the growth was majorly fueled by hospital procurement.
- However, currently, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the economic activities and industrial manufacturing activities have been affected significantly in the country. On the bright side, as of March 2020, China lifted the lockdown in the country and resumed various industrial operations in the country, while other countries are still aggressively engaged in lockdowns and treatments. Hence, from the above-mentioned factors, the demand for polycarbonate in China is likely to remain affected in the short run; however, the industrial demand is expected to normalize from 2021.
The global polycarbonate market is consolidated among the top players. The top five players accounted for an estimated share of 74% of the global market, in terms of production capacities. The major companies include Covestro AG, SABIC, Mitsubishi Engineering-Plastics Corporation, LOTTE Chemical CORPORATION, and TEIJIN LIMITED, among others.
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