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Global production of manufactured fiber was 36.0million metric tons in 2002, an increase of 155%from the 14.1 million tons produced in 1982. Overthe past twenty years synthetic types, e.g. polyester,have shown strong long-term growth, while cellulosicshave declined. Synthetics now account for 94%of worldwide production.
 
 
In 2002 global production - in million metric tons - for the key fiber types was: polyester 21.0, olefin 5.9, nylon 3.9, and acrylic 2.7. Over the past twenty years, polyester has maintained a substantial lead involume. Olefin fibers have shown strong growth from a low base and now surpass nylon and acrylic fibers in production volume.
 
 
Individual fiber production patterns have resulted in significant shifts in fiber shares.Polyester production share has moved from 37% in 1982 to 58% in 2002, a 21% absolute share gain. Olefin share has grown from 7% in 1982 to 17% in 2002.
 
 
Growth in synthetic fiber production has resulted in a major shift in production from North America and Europe to Asia. In 2002 Asian production was 20.0 million metric tons compared with 4.7 in North America, 3.4 in Europe. Production in Eastern Europe has declined significantly – from a peak of 1.9 million metric tons in the late 1980’s to 0.9 in 2002.
 
 
Cellulosic fiber production peaked in the early1980’s at 3 million metric tons. Since then, the regional trend has been characterized by strong growth in Asia offset by drastic decline in EasternEurope – from peak production of 1.1 million metric tons in the early 1980’s to 92 thousand tons in 2002. In the same period Asian production moved up by 660 thousand tons and accounted for 69% of global production in 2002. All other regions experienced decline.
 
 
Asian share of synthetic fiber production was 65% in 2002. This compares with a North American and Western Europe combined share of 46% in 1982, down to 27% in 2002. The other significant shift in the twenty-year period was Eastern Europe – moving from 17% to 2%. Other regions in that period including South America, the Middle East and Oceania experienced consistent growth.
 
 

From 1982 through 2002 trend growth for all manufactured fibers was 4.8%. For the twenty year period, synthetics grew at 5.7% per year, while cellulosics declined at a rate of 1.6% per year. Within the synthetic group, olefin grew at 9.0%, polyester at 7.3%, acrylic at 1.4% and nylon at 1.6%.

The twenty year average annual growth trend by region reflects 8.8% growth in Asia, 2.1% growth in North America, 1.9% in Western Europe, and 4.3% for all other regions. Eastern Europe declined at 8.7% per year from a peak production in 1988.

 
 
In 1997 global growth was 11.5%, strikingly above trend line growth of 5% per year. In 1998 growth declined to 3.4%, precipitated by the Asian currency crisis but aggravated by over built global inventories and several years of over expansion of global capacity forcing production to unsustainable growth rates. Growth accelerated in 1999 and 2000 to 4.6% and 6.6% respectively In 2001, for the first time in history, worldwide synthetic production decline by 0.6% to be followed by a 6.1% increase in 2002.
 
Editor’s Note: The above data is drawn from annual World Surveys of Manufactured Fiber Production, completed each year by the Fiber Economics Bureau and published in June issue of the Bureau’s monthly statistical journal, The Fiber Organon. The world survey has been a regular feature of the Organon since 1952.
 
   

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