1. Food Gathering      Some herbs gathered for stimulants & medicine
2. Agriculture
   -----------         Dyes from plants    Small production of olive
3. Simple Technology   animals, fish       oil. Simple processing.
   -----------------   became important    Increased to large scale
4. City State          manufacture         production. Bitumen,
   ---------           especially for      cinnabar extracted &
5. Empire (Roman)      clothes             processed, lime, perfume

   --------------      Large scale production mainly from agricult-
                       ural specialisation + some technology (e.g.
                       large stone grinders for olive oil). Some
                       extraction from ground & processing.

6. Medieval (Europe)   As (2)-(3).  Mainly vegetable dyes, chemicals
   --------            for leather treatment.  Start of simple
                       explosives production - S, C, potassium 
                       nitrate - large scale production

7. Industrial          Use of coal for mechanical power stimulated
   Revolution          chemical industry: dyes & explosives based on
   ----------          benzene & distillation of coal

                       Then oil production gave oil based chemicals.
                       Growth of chemistry in production processes
8. Consumer Society    with acids, alkalis, catalysts. Processes 
   ----------------    grew in size into forms of continous flow 
                       methods,  in coke, steel,  chemicals

                       Range of chemicals expand to meet industrial
                       processes:  firtilisers, plastics (which 
9. Mass Production     later substitute for many materials, e.g.  
   ----------------    glass, metals, wood, paper)

                       Chemicals becomes an industry serving many 
                       other industries:

                       Information:  printing & photo chemicals
                       Transport: Paint, cleaning fluids, lubricants
                          battery acids & lead, anti freezes
                       Food:  firtiliser, preservatives
                       Construction: paints,  wood preservatives 
                       Manufacturing:  various
                       Commerce:  photocopying chemicals
                       Government:  explosives

                       Production processes grew in size,  mainly
                       continous flow, use of catalysts - increase
                       in economies of scale - so introduction of
                       an additional plant often upset the supply -
                       demand relationship in that area

                       Danger in many processes led to quite high


This industry is not one which now has a great involvement in serving final demand. Its customers are largely other industries. Its development has been sandwiched between the processes and technologies of the extractive industries (in the early days agricultural production), and the various requirements of the other industries. It has been largely dependent on developments in the extractive industries but has not really played much part in their development - but has largely bridged the gap between what was available here, and demand.

So the fortunes of this industry are likely to be tied up with the fortunes of the industries it serves (and their requirements, including new industries), and developments in the extractive end. The pattern of migration of basic industries out of the Post Industrials is likely to affect the fortunes and the locations of the industries it serves as well as its own.

Producing chemicals for the new industries and high technologies may be the main opportunity in the Post Industrials, and provision of chemicals for growing industrial development elsewhere.

This Sector does not give clear Constant Trends which generally are found. Instead it gives rise to a new type of industry, one that serves many other industries. As such, its future is bound up with most other industries. To some extent this is true of all Materials. But individual materials will grow and decline based on demand for them and competing materials. The Chemical Industry, on the other hand, and the science and technology behind it, is probably sufficiently broad and powerful to have a growing demand into the long term. Individual chemicals, however, will behave as an individual material - for which a product cycle will exist and its form must be forecast.


The driver of siting production plants near the sources of raw material with access to cheap labour is probably not nearly so important as in many other industries. Though some evidence of this type of migration can be seen. Chemical production is of a higher technological content than most other industries, and it uses only a small amount of labour which itself is quite highly trained. Poorly educated labour may be more of a disadvantage than an advantage; and the industry tends to use relatively small amounts of raw materials. Thus if migration is to become a pressing need for this driver it is likely to be late in the Post Industrial period.

A more likely development is for LDCs & UDCs (see Abbreviations) with relevant raw materials to attempt to add more value to them by establishing chemical industries - only to find that they lack marketing (see New World Trading Patterns) - unless they are established as part of the MNC Network (see Abbreviations). Eg. India's fertiliser plants running at half capacity. There may be a lot of abortive developments of this sort.

A more important reason for migration will be the migration of the customer industries themselves - and their growth in the MRCs & LDCs. It may make more economic sense to establish plants in juxtaposition to both markets and raw materials.

In fact the Chemical industry is one in which there is a strong MNC Network - and so this will naturally expand. It will look more like a growth of activities outside the Post Industrials rather than migration from them.

The main raw materials for the Chemical industry are coal and oil, and from Energy these are likely to be in ample supply for the foreseeable future - anyway in the lower concentration form in which most of the oil deposits exist. The emerging Post Industrials are in fact well endowed with both - and supply depletion which is occurring for other raw materials in the Post Industrials is unlikely to be a problem for the Chemical industry. With quite a high automation base at present the driver for migration will not be strong.

The Chemical Industry is best looked at as 3 separate entities:

1. Synthetic Materials

Plastics have been substituting for metals since the war, and more recently for many other materials including wood, paper (& metal) packaging. New products such as computer discs have gone straight to plastics. We expect this general substitution to continue, including in some of the remaining heavy metals users such as vehicles. The core use of metals in their strength and electrical & heat conductivity will contract as more synthetic materials are produced with particular properties matched to the needs. Lower cost and better general performance for the task (eg lower weight and better corrosion resistance in parts of car bodies) are the drivers.

At some point the rate of these substitutions will begin to plateau. The weak signals to monitor for this are the properties of synthetic materials under development, and the scope for substitution of existing materials by existing synthetic materials. Because there are still large volumes of metal used in consumer items which are at present being eaten into by plastics we do not think this plateau is on the horizon. It has been suggested that even engine blocks could be made of plastic as their heat resistance grows. Since the weight of an engine is a significant proportion of the weight of the vehicle (and expensive engines are made of aluminium to improve the vehicle's performance) such plastic will be taken up when it is available. This would only leave the pistons, cylinder linings, bearings, and valves which need to be in metal, and possibly the transmission shafts. Scope exists for production machinery to follow a similar trend.

2. Agents used in other processes

These are chemicals which do not directly go to the final consumer. This includes fertilisers used in agriculture, catalysts used in chemicals processes, cleaning and lubricating materials in manufacturing processes. The trends here depend on the developments in most other Sectors of Industry & Commerce, and some of the impacts are given below.

3. Chemicals supplied to the consumer

Manufacturers of Chemicals supplied to the consumer are effectively Consumer Manufacturers - which are set up as a Sub-Area of the Business Trends Library. Consumer Manufacturers differ from other manufacturers as they seek out and satisfy Consumer needs - an ultimate driver of economic demand.

From Consumer Manufacture, Household and Sport & Hobbies are the most important Sectors. Household demand is largely for cleaning and maintenance - for which some plateau in demand may be expected in the Post Industrials. Sport & Hobby is a dynamic area in which there is a growth of specialist interests, including technology subjects (the computer being a current one), some of which may have chemical requirements. Monitoring Sport & Hobby activities gives a lead to likely chemical and allied demand which may follow. Some of the impacts from other Sectors are given below.

From Particular Industries

Thus from other Sectors of the Business Trends Library, the fortunes of particular industries which may indicate a contraction or change in demand for particular materials:

Communications - Information - gradual shift to electronic and the Computer-Media. It has been expected this would result in the decline of printed materials. But so far the computer generates more paper than it displaces. Reading from computer screens is a blockage. User friendly computers that explain to users how to use them has not yet occurred, instead computer products are accompanied by huge printed manuals and massive magazines. Time scales uncertain on decline of printed materials.

There will be growth in demand for semi-conductors.

Transport - continued substitution of plastics for metal in non-load bearing components: panels, boot lids, bonnets, doors, interiors; possibly engine blocks. More composite materials in aircraft.

Food Production- increasing efficiency in using firtilisers in the Post Industrials reducing the amount used, with a gradual movement to hydrophonic methods. Possibly an increase in firtiliser use in MRCs & LDCs.

Construction- moves towards factory production of building sections, in different materials, with greater use of plastic and insulation materials in place of wood, brick and concrete. But trends slow.

Manufacturing - similar but slower substitution of metals by plastics in Post Industrial productive machinery as in Transport- slower still elsewhere. A lot of Consumer Manufacture has and will migrate from the Post Industrials, so the material requirements will migrate too:

Distribution- substitution by plastics of tradition packaging materials (glass, paper, metal) in Post Industrials but nearing plateau. This substitution will occur in MRCs and later in LDCs.

Commerce- is becoming part of the Computer-Media in the Post Industrials, though as with computers above there is not much sign of reduction in use of paper. This reduction is to be expected when the Computer-Media enters the home, when commercial organisations' communications with consumers will not have to be based on paper. While some early developments are occurring with email, it is difficult to give time scales.

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