The French plastics industry ranks second in Europe after Germany and fourth in the world after the United States, Japan and Germany. With 3,800 companies and a workforce of approximately 151,000, the French plastics industry generated a turnover of USD 44,286 million in 2007. Turnover in plastics processing increased by almost 4% in 2007, sustained by the market for tubes, pipes and profiles, by packaging and by the construction industry. Since 2002, the turnover of the industry continuously increased and an increase of 3% is estimated for 2008.
As with its European counterparts, France’s industrial plastics processing companies faced rising costs, especially for raw materials. In 2007, the production of technical parts decreased mainly due to the weakness of the automotive market. Regarding the current situation in the automotive sector, the production of cars in 2008 and 2009 is expected to decrease and the subsector of plastic technical parts will be affected.
For 2009, the economic crisis will probably preclude increases in production and turnover. For this reason, we have based our 2009 figures on those of 2007, with the expectation of an approximately stable market.
Plastic products for the building and construction as well as for the packaging markets should continue to increase in 2008. This tendency is expected to continue in the next few years. In 2007, sales of processed plastics products were broken down as follows: technical parts accounting for 36%, packaging for 24%, building products for 18% and semi-finished products for 16%.
The European Union (mainly Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium and Italy) is the main trading partner of France with 75% of exports and 80% of imports.
Outside of Europe, the main non-EU suppliers of plastics products to France are China, the U.S. and Switzerland. In 2007, the U.S. sold USD 438 million in plastic products to France, (+ 7% compared with 2006), mostly technical parts worth USD 206 million, semi-finished products for USD 164 million, packaging USD 60 million and building products USD 8 million. U.S. imports have been fairly stable for the last couple of years and should continue to increase at the same level over the short to mid-term.
In the context of the currency situation, the strength of the euro gives a competitive advantage to U.S. companies and offers niche-market opportunities to American equipment, machinery and technology. U.S. imports mainly concerned technical parts and semi-finished products. Demand for plates, sheets, tubes and profiles is strong, as well as products for the packaging, building and construction markets.
The International Trade Fair for Plastic and Rubber (K Show) is the major European exhibition for the plastics industry. It takes place in Dusseldorf every 3 years. The next K Show is October 27-November 3, 2010. It presents a good opportunity for U.S. companies to study the potential of the European market, to access competition and meet with French partners. http://www.k-online.de