Fiber Cement Market - Europe Without Asbestos: Germany Dominates in the Intra-EU Fiber Cement Trade

Non-Metallic Mineral Products July 21, 2015
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

fiber cement market

One of the most pressing issues relating to the health of every person in the EU continues to be the so-called "problem of asbestos". Since January 2005, the use of asbestos has been banned across the European Union.

Asbestos is a natural occurring silicate that in, its heyday, was commonly referred to as the "miracle mineral" because of its flexibility, abundance, and resistance to fire and corrosion. It was widely used in the construction of buildings between 1930 and 1960. Despite its known dangers, manufacturers of asbestos, in an effort to avoid prosecution, did all they could to prevent the link between it and respiratory diseases from being revealed. However, in 1960, the researcher Christopher Wagner published his work on mesothelioma, shedding light on the harmful consequences from asbestos exposure.

Unfortunately, the huge quantities of asbestos used in Europe throughout the 20th century will continue to kill tens of thousands of people every year for the next two decades. EU experts estimate that asbestos-related cancers, between now and 2030 will cause approximately 500,000 deaths in Western Europe alone.

In 1998, the French research group "Europe Against Cancer" published an article stating that in the early 1990s, more than 1.2 million people in 15 countries of the European Union in the course of employment had to deal with asbestos. Today, the European Union is making progress in addressing the problem of damages to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the wide and often uncontrolled use of asbestos.

In the past, asbestos was often utilized in the EU for the construction of houses, shopping centers, office buildings and a variety of other structures. At present, though, asbestos is no longer used throughout the European Union, as the dangers associated with it have become clearly known and there are numerous alternatives to asbestos products currently on the market. For example, sheets, panels, tiles and similar articles of cellulose fiber-cement or similar mixtures of fibers are the most popular as the alternatives to asbestos.

Regarding the intra-EU trade, Germany dominates in EU-28 production on the fiber cement market. In 2013, Germany exported 22.1% of its total output. Of this amount, 25.3% was supplied to France, where Germany's cellulose fiber-cement held 12.8% share of total France's consumption.

The U.S. and China were the main suppliers of cellulose fiber-cement articles into the EU, with a combined share of 35.2% of external imports in 2013. These countries were the fastest growing suppliers from 2007 to 2013 (124.4% per year and 31.0% per year respectively). The U.S. significantly strengthened its position in the European imports structure, from 0.2%% in 2007 to 28.1% in 2013.

In 2013, Norway (21.1%), Algeria (15.0%), Switzerland (13.5%), the Russian Federation (12.7%) and the U.S. (7.8%) were the leading destinations of EU external exports, together making up 70.1% of total exports in physical terms. While the share of Algeria increased, the share of the Russian Federation illustrated negative dynamics. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

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Source: EU: Articles Of Asbestos-Cement, Cellulose Fiber-Cement Or The Like - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2020