WASHINGTON — North American resin production should reach 88.7 billion pounds in 1997 — up 5.2 percent from last year — but sustaining that growth in 1998 is less certain because of a slowing U.S. economy and turmoil in Asia, according to projections from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
The U.S. economy is growing at more than 3.5 percent this year, but is likely to grow at between 2 and 2.5 percent next year, said Victor Chang, chairman of SPI's Committee on Resin Statistics and manager of planning and economic analysis for BASF Corp. in Mount Olive, N.J.
``The recent currency and financial turmoil in Asia increases the uncertainty,'' Chang said. ``We may see lower levels of exports, coupled with more imports, due to weak local demand and currency values.''
That prediction echoes a recent report from the U.S. Commerce Department and McGraw Hill Cos. Inc. that said constant-dollar shipments of resins and materials will grow at 3 percent in 1998, down from this year because of leveling off of the motor vehicle and construction markets.
Washington-based SPI reports data for the United States and Canada together, for 10 major resins, and includes Mexico in reporting nylon.
SPI released its year-end resin report at its annual news meeting in Washington.
Sales and captive use of commodity resins is projected to increase 4.6 percent in 1997, down from 9.1 percent growth in 1996.
Linear low density polyethylene showed strong growth and is projected to rise 5.5 percent in domestic sales and captive use in 1997, while LDPE is only projected to rise 0.1 percent as LLDPE continues to replace it.
Polystyrene and polypropylene are each projected to grow more than 7 percent in domestic sales and captive use, while nylon and PVC should see growth of 11 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.