The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association's second annual business outlook survey, released at the group's corporate excellence conference earlier this month, found that SOCMA members are much more optimistic about the future than they were a year ago.
"We were both surprised and pleased to see the optimistic economic picture these results paint," said Robert Dollinger of Rhodia Pharma Solutions and chair of SOCMA's survey team. "It clearly contradicts reports we've seen regarding poor and declining business conditions for chemical manufacturers."
At the same time that they see business improving, survey respondents are wary of the growing role played by low-cost competitors from India, China, and Eastern Europe.
Respondents see the market share held by emerging-country competitors as growing considerably between 2004 and 2007. And they increasingly acknowledge that the quality of products from such competitors is not a big issue: 36% said quality is the same as from Western firms, compared with 23% last year.
Not surprisingly, 29% of respondents said they have formed a strategic alliance with a company from an emerging market, compared with 26% in the previous survey.