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Published: April 2010
Polyester fiber is the most used synthetic fiber worldwide, with a market share of about 72%. In fact, not only is its production cost reasonably low, but it is also successfully used in many industrial and textile applications, as well as in the automotive industry. For many years, the world market for polyester fiber has enjoyed sustained annual growth rates of 7–9%. However, since mid-2008, consumption has significantly slowed, mainly as a consequence of the global economic recession.
In 2008, world consumption of polyester fiber was about 1.8% less than in 2007. However, in 2009, world consumption recovered and was back to the 2007 level again, mainly as a result of Chinese consumption growth. In Europe, North America and Japan in 2008 and 2009, the market decreased by more than 15% annually; however, during the same period, consumption in China increased at a rate of over 4% per year. In the rest of the world, consumption decreases have mostly occurred, although of variable extent from region to region.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of polyester fibers:
China consumes about 64% of the polyester fiber produced worldwide, principally for textile applications. The country consumes fibers in a chain of textile weaving, dyeing and apparel-making industries, then exports large amounts of finished goods, including apparel, curtains and bedding, around the world. Moreover, since the abolition of textile quotas in 2004, Chinese exports of apparel and other textile products have been increasing very rapidly. Threatened by this large volume of low-cost fabrics entering their countries, many producers in the more economically developed countries have been forced to restructure their businesses.
China accounts for over 66% of the global output of polyester fibers, up from only 27% in 2000. This extraordinary increase has led to surplus in the worldwide supply for the past few years. During 2008 and 2009, Chinese output increased by about 4% annually, leading to a surplus of product that is probably going to fill inventories.
In addition to China, other emerging polyester fiber producers in Asia include India, Malaysia and Vietnam, whereas the Republic of Korea and Taiwan have significantly reduced their output since 2000, mainly because of the strong Chinese competition.
Fifteen major companies supplied the world’s polyester fiber market in 2009, many of which have full or part ownership in plants throughout the world. These top fifteen companies account for 27% of the world’s capacity. Reliance Industries and Sinopec are the two largest, accounting for about 3.5% of total world capacity each.