TORONTO - Canada's plastics industry should have a second consecutive year of double-digit growth, predicts Faris Shammas, chief economist for the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Canada. Broad-based growth, partly fueled by high exports, could boost the industry's processor shipments by 10 percent, said Shammas, vice president of administration for the trade association based in Don Mills, a Toronto suburb.
Shammas estimates that the industry's processor shipments grew about 17 percent in 1994 to C$15.8 billion (US$11.3 billion). Canadian processor shipments grew 5.9 percent in 1993 and 2.1 percent in 1992, and shrank in the previous two years.
Shammas said performance projections for last year and 1995 are especially impressive because of low inflation rates. High growth rates in the 1980s were attributed partly to galloping inflation rates.
Canadian resin producers' shipments in 1994 were up about 24 percent to C$5.3 billion (US$3.8 billion), largely because of price increases endemic to the industry, according to Shammas.
Plastics machinery producers shipped about 12 percent more product with a value of about C$900 million (US$644 million) and enjoyed a third consecutive year of a machinery trade surplus.
Canada's mold manufacturers had a very strong year in 1994 and may have doubled 1993's shipments of C$650 million (US$504 million), Shammas estimated.
Canada's weak currency will make its manufacturing industry more competitive in export markets, economists predict.
By the end of 1994, its dollar fell to 71.05 cents in U.S. currency, its lowest level in eight years. The Canadian dollar recovered a bit in early 1995, but in early January was still below 72 U.S. cents.
Shammas said a 1995 average value of 73-75 U.S. cents for the Canadian dollar is a realistic forecast and one that is ``favorable to exports.''
Canada will lead Group of Seven nations - the world's leading industrial nations - in economic growth in 1995 and 1996, predicts the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Following a 4.1 percent increase in real gross domestic product last year, OECD estimates GDP growth of 4.2 percent in 1995 and 3.9 percent in 1996.
Many SPI Canada members predict they will double in size by the year 2000, according to a recent survey answered by about 100 of the association's members. Members will expand by acquisition and by boosting exports, Shammas explained.