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At the conclusion of the paper expo, Paper Arabia, a question that is oft at the back of people's minds comes to the forefront, 'Is the paper industry suffering?'. When posing this question to manufacturers, they conceded to a drop in demand from one section with the arrival of the iPad, Kindle or ebooks, which contributed to a drop in demand for newsprint or writing paper and is expected to decline further. However, balancing the fall in demand from one section, is the rise in volumes of value added products or even industrial paper, particularly packaging grades, which is growing in absolute terms.

Similarly falling demand from the West is being offset by growth in Asian economies, where domestic consumption and markets are flourishing; encouraging manufacturers to talk of expansions and additional investments in technology.

While the common perception is that paper mills are closing down, due to shrinking markets, the actual scenario is such that companies are not ceasing production but restructuring by downing shutters of machines that are not commercially viable. Demand for paper has also increased in actual terms from 315 million tonnes to 420 million tonnes in the last decade.

So as they say, is paper pass? I don't think so.

In this edition of PrintWeek MEA we have dedicated 4 pages to Paper Arabia, interviewing participants and exhibitors, featuring new launches and announcements.