World demand for industrial valves is forecast to increase 5.5 percent per year through 2007 (including price increases) to more than $60 billion, according to “World Valves,” a study from Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

The gains achieved represent an improvement over the 1997 to 2002 period. Freedonia analysts attribute the gains to accelerating macroeconomic growth in the developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Improving economic fundamentals -- especially fixed-investment levels -- will bolster most valve-consuming sectors and strengthen underdeveloped infrastructures in these regions, according to the study. As a result, primary energy consumption will increase, creating opportunities for valve suppliers in the key energy production sector in the developing world.

The advanced nations of North America, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific comprise mature markets for valves. Although the valve markets in the United States, Japan and Western Europe will register gains that will lag the global average through 2007, according to Freedonia, all three also will see an improvement in their respective markets over the performance of the 1997 to 2002 period. Stronger demand prospects for more expensive automated valves and actuators also will aid the overall valve markets in the three regions.

Global demand for automatic valves will outpace that for conventional valves, benefiting from the desire of process manufacturers to improve efficiency. The largest and most technically proficient valve manufacturing industries generally are located in the developed nations, as evidenced by the fact that the United States, Germany, Japan and Italy together accounted for more than half of global valve production in 2002. However, China is rapidly becoming a major player and net exporter. Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Taiwan are also notable valve producers, according to the report. Italy, Germany and Japan are the world's largest net exporters of valves.

The 354-page report is available from the Freedonia Group by calling (440) 684-9600 or visiting www.freedoniagroup.com.