IHS CERAWeek: Dow Chemical remains bullish on Chinese, US demand

By Ben DuBose
Digital Editor

HOUSTON -- Dow Chemical is continuing to see strong growth in demand from China, where a smarter, more efficient economy is set to boom, CEO Andrew Liveris said on Wednesday.

Speaking on "gas day" at the annual IHS CERAWeek conference, Liveris said that Dow Chemical's business in China grew by 10% last year, adding that he sees no downturn ahead for the company's customers there.

"My China is doing fine, thank you very much," Liveris said in response to a question over whether he remained confident in the nation's demand. While Dow and many other industry heavyweights have been bullish on China for years, some recent economic reports have painted an uneven picture.

"Consumers in the US and China are anchoring the global economy and will drive global growth for the next 10 years," Liveris said.

However, Liveris -- originally an engineer from Australia -- did note that Dow and other industry companies must show an ability to react and adapt quickly to future market changes.

"The economy is moving at the speed of 'live'," Liveris said, adding that Dow was quickly becoming a digital company. "We have to manage the short-term with a maniacal focus on productivity."

Liveris also updated Dow Chemical's US operations, noting that the planned merger with DuPont continues to progress as planned. Liveris said that Dow will focus on polymers, while DuPont will largely focus on agriculture.

The CEO said the company's $6-billion total of new US investments, including the construction of a world-scale ethane cracker and derivatives complex in Freeport, Texas, has been "fantastic" for his company.

"When people call you crazy, it's a good thing," he quipped.

Liveris will step down as CEO of Dow by mid-2017, following its merger with DuPont. A 40-year veteran of Dow, Liveris has been CEO of the Midland, Michigan-based company since 2004.

IHS CERAWeek continues through Friday at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston.

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