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Business trends

Hot tech and rising economies disrupt materials supply chains

Longtime importers fret over higher prices and possible shortages

With more Chinese consumers buying online, demand for cardboard boxes is soaring.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Steel, petrochemicals, timber, cardboard -- prices are spiking in a host of industries. Technological advances and lifestyle changes are driving up demand for certain materials and drawing supplies away from traditional uses. Powerful new players like India are also making their presence felt in the resource race.

In other words, procuring materials in 2018 will not be for the faint of heart.

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