Briefs: Asia

The EU Chemical Sector: To 2030

EUChem_Maarten Takens

European chemical companies face a more challenging environment in the future as Asian economies—and emerging- market chemical companies—grow more important to the global chemical sector.

This will force firms in the EU chemical sector to adapt, innovate, and forge new relationships with a variety of players in the chemical industry value chain—or face increasing pressure from Asian and Middle Eastern firms. Even if EU firms do adapt to the change in the operating environment, the chemical sector of 2030 will look quite different than today, with some two-thirds of global sales coming from Asia, compared to about 50% today.

These and other forecasts were developed by the chemical practices at A.T. Kearney and presented in its Chemical Industry Vision 2030 report.

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The Future of the Auto Industry

Image: Marianna, Flickr creative commons for commercial use

Over the last century, the auto industry has put more than 1 billion vehicles on the world’s roadways—and continues to add more. Over the last five decades, the industry has averaged sales growth of 3% per year—double the growth of the world’s population over that period.

Yet the automobile industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Sales in what have traditionally been the industry’s strongest markets have leveled off in recent decades, but they continue to grow rapidly in emerging markets, especially China.

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The Future of Low-Carbon Vehicles

Image: pictruck340, flickr creative commons for commercial use

In Europe and most advanced economies, government regulation and growing consumer interest are driving the development and deployment of vehicles that reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and resultant carbon emissions.

While the expanding market for more sustainable vehicles does not yet signal the imminent demise of the internal combustion engine, the combination of consumer demand and regulatory pressure will accelerate the shift toward hybrid, electric, and alternative-fuel vehicles over the next two to three decades.

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China’s Middle Class: The Rise that Transformed the Country


The rise of the Chinese middle class has transformed the country in the last several decades — reducing poverty and sparking new consumer behaviors. It has also led organizations from food companies to automakers to invest in the growing — and future — consumption by Chinese consumers.

For example, Volkswagen plans to open 10 new automotive plants in the near future, seven of which will be located in China. Research by McKinsey suggests several important trajectories as the middle class continues to grow and evolve over the next decade.

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Land of the Setting Sun: Japan’s Time Bomb

Japan_LandofSettingSun_Max max Flickr

Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is experiencing dramatic and potentially disastrous demographic shifts. Japan’s population, already old, is aging rapidly.

But in recent years, Japan has begun facing another demographic challenge: In addition to aging, the country’s total population has now begun shrinking. As a result of this overall decline, the senior share of the population is growing even more quickly. While the senior population continues to grow, the population of children and working-age adults is dropping.

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China + Aging: Economic, Social, Policy Implications

China Aging Update

China faces an aging problem characterized by a number of interrelated components: A rising median age, a failing social safety net, the one-child policy introduced in 1979 to curb population growth, and a gender imbalance brought on directly by the one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys.

According to Yuan Xin, a professor and director of the Aging Development Strategy Research Center at Nankai University, “There is no country in the world that is facing such a big aging population problem.”

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China’s Post-2000 Generation: Understanding the Kids Today

Image: Flickr, creative commons for creative use

Most of today’s Chinese children were born during the 2000s. The 154 million members of the post-2000 generation live in unprecedented prosperity, with resources never before lavished on a generation in China — enhanced for many by their status as only children.

As they enter their teen and young-adult years, members of this generation will face a range of challenges, including meeting their own and their parents’ high expectations, and navigating life in a middle-income country that still constrains many personal freedoms. This clash could set the stage for change in China.

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