SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - After a difficult 2001, the current year starts with the promise of being a better period for the plastics industry in Brazil, according to specialists from the local molding and resin sectors. Forecasts by Abiplast, Brazil's national plastics industry association, indicate that last year's losses will be recovered in 2002, while resin suppliers project an 8-10 percent growth in resin consumption.
2001 made history by breaking a decade of uninterrupted growth. According to preliminary data, plastics processors in Brazil saw a decrease of roughly 5 percent in sales, totaling US$8.5 billion.
``2001 started as a very good year with processors expecting to post an average growth rate of 13 percent. But as of April, we experienced a series of difficulties that changed the scenario entirely,'' said Abiplast President Merheg Cachum.
Among such problems, he mentioned the energy crisis that forced the entire nation to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, the worsening of Argentina's economic situation, the first signs of recession in the U.S. economy and, lastly, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
``Apparently, we are beginning to overcome all this. The energy problem should be neutralized, Brazil seems to no longer be influenced by the Argentine crisis, presidential elections will take place in 2002, and we all expect a recovery in the U.S. and the economy worldwide,'' Cachum said.
``2001 was a year of adjustments,'' said Jean Daniel Peter, president of Siresp, the resin industry association of the state of Sao Paulo. ``Processors were operating with high inventory levels and price fluctuation in terms of raw materials, not to mention the difficulties observed in the international scenario.''
After an 8-10 percent rebound in Brazil's resin consumption this year, Peter predicts 5-6 percent growth in 2003.
``It is a lower figure than the 10 percent average seen from 1991 to 2000, but nonetheless a realistic forecast when taking into account the maturity curve of Brazil's plastics industry,'' he said.