This new interactive column is designed to give readers a forum to discuss opinions on industry issues. This month's topic is "free trade." Read the column, then share your thoughts with other readers online.
Although the U.S. recession officially ended in November 2001, economic recovery over the past couple of years has been sluggish. As a result, consumption of many raw and manufactured materials were flat to slightly lower in many industrial segments in 2002. However, the ceramic industry appears to have bucked this trend, with material consumption in some segments-particularly pottery, tile and refractories-posting double-digit increases.