The industry that was hard hit by the global economic meltdown is gradually witnessing signs of recovery, particularly led by economic growth in developing countries. Huge governmental stimulus subsequent to the economic turmoil coupled with high construction activity in the developing world is expected to fuel future growth in the global flat glass market.
Global flat glass demand turned towards negative territory in 2008 as the sub-prime crisis engulfed the entire world. The consequent full-blown recession had a deepening impact on the construction and automotive industries that account for about 80% of the flat glass demand. Capacity utilization, which had remained over 90% for the last several years, declined to below 87% in 2009. Region-wise, the decline was particularly sharp in Europe, Japan and North America. China, the single largest flat glass producer globally, also faced consequences of the meltdown. The market is currently showing signs of recovery, particularly led by economic growth in the developing countries. Huge economic stimulus provided by governments across the world is proving beneficial for the construction and automotive markets, with the positive effects percolating into the flat glass industry.
Asia-Pacific represents the largest as well as the fastest growing market for flat glass, as stated by the new market research report on Flat Glass. Rising economic affluence is expected to boost the automobile industry in these countries. In China replacement of inferior quality sheet glass by float glass and increased acceptance of fabricated glass of high value including insulating glass and safety glass are expected to shape the glass market in the next decade. Globally, factors such as increasing demand for energy conservation and implementation of new legislation for safety and noise levels at manufacturing units are fueling higher usage of glass in construction activity. Architectural market for advanced flat glass is expected to benefit from features such as low-emissivity, reflective and smart glass. In the automotive sector, increased use of value added glass, use of glazing as styling and differentiating feature, and environmental concerns are driving the use of double-glazed glass. The industry is also deriving growth from new smart-glass products such as electrochromic, switchable glass, self-cleaning window glass and heads-up display windscreens.
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