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Europe has seen its market share in the last decade alone collapse from 30% world market share to 15%.
Europe has seen its market share in the last decade alone collapse from 30% world market share to 15%.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman, has written an open letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, expressing his concerns about the future of the European chemicals industry.

The letter questioned the EU for its green regulations and taxes, arguing for a reduction to sustain a competitive chemicals industry.

“Europe is no longer competitive. It has the world’s most expensive energy and labour laws that are uninviting for employers,” Ratcliffe wrote. “Worst of all, it has green taxes that, at best, can be described as foolish as they are having the opposite effect to how they were intended. ”

“Nobody but nobody in my business seriously invests in Europe. They haven’t for a generation. Everyone in my business does however invest in the USA, Middle East or China, or indeed, all three,” he pointed out.

He said that the USA is “in the middle of a US$200 billion spending spree” on 333 new chemicals plants. Meanwhile, China has also spent a similar amount in constructing its own chemicals building blocks.

Ratcliffe stressed that "Europe ‘going it alone’ with green taxes" as its main strategy has "got it wrong" and it has pushed investors to the USA and China. Europe’s share of the world chemicals market was halved from 30% to 15% in the last 10 years.

“America has welcomed new investment but on condition that it has the highest possible environmental standards. It has created investment, new jobs and improved environmental emissions. Europe has done the opposite on all fronts,” he commented.

In January 2019, INEOS publicly announced its €3 billion petrochemicals expansion for an ethane gas cracker and world-scale PDH (propane dehydrogenation) unit in Antwerp, Belgium.

Ratcliffe explained that thanks to INEOS’s access to “huge quantities of cheap energy and feedstocks from the USA”, the company has had “no market risk” as all the products produced would be consumed by its own businesses in Europe.  

OINEOS’ decision to invest in Belgium, he said: “Don’t expect others to follow. They will be welcomed by the USA and China with a warm smile and a good strategy.”

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