Demand for raw flat glass is forecast to reach 39.2 million metric tons in 2004. Given this forecast and assuming an industry-wide utilization rate of about 85 percent, the global industry will require about 14,000 metric tons per day of new float glass capacity from the installed base at year-end 1999 to meet market demands through the end of 2004.
The construction market will offer the strongest gains, with demand forecast to expand 4.7 percent per year to 2.5 billion square meters in 2004. In developed regions, demand for architectural glass will reflect in part the implementation of tighter energy standards, while in developing regions, the acute need for adequate housing and the ongoing expansion in the commercial and industrial sectors will be the primary factors behind gains. The automotive glass market will continue to offer a lackluster performance, reflecting generally sluggish motor vehicle production. Specialty markets will benefit from sustained growth in personal consumption expenditures.
Asia will continue to offer strong annual gains, a performance due largely to sustained expansion in the large Chinese market. While the region’ s financial crisis hammered demand in the short term, long term prospects remain favorable, predicated upon the region’ s pressing need for adequate new housing, industrial expansion and rising motor vehicle production capabilities. Renewed expansion gains in per capita income levels are bolstering indigenous demand for consumer goods, including glass-intensive items such as appliances, furniture and mirrors. One exception is Japan, which will offer below-average growth due to sluggishness in all major markets. Even these moderate gains represent a recovery from Japan’ s flat-to declining performance over the previous decade.
Although the massive US market will continue to be the largest, the most rapid growth in the North American region will arise in Mexico. Western Europe’ s flat glass market has seen solid gains in recent years due mainly to a stronger construction industry and rejuvenated consumer spending dynamics. These two trends will promote solid new gains in flat glass demand in construction and specialty markets, although declining demand for motor vehicle glass will drag down the regional average.