German chemical firms see weak growth in 2020

FRANKFURT am Main (AFP) – Germany’s key chemicals industry yesterday said it expected only a small increase in revenues next year after a “difficult” 2019, as headwinds from trade wars and a darkening economic outlook persist.

German chemical and pharmaceutical firms saw revenues shrink by 5.0 per cent this year to EUR193 billion (USD213 billion) – below the symbolically important 200-billion-euro level.

Production, meanwhile, plummeted by 7.5 per cent year-on-year, the VCI industry federation said.

“2019 was a difficult year for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry,” the industry body said in a statement.

Foreign demand suffered from “the global economic slowdown and trade conflicts between the United States and China”.

At home, there was less demand from industrial customers amid wider manufacturing woes in Europe’s powerhouse economy. Chemicals are Germany’s third-largest industrial sector, and its products are vital inputs for many manufacturing processes in other industries.

The VCI represents 1,700 firms ranging from giant multinationals like BASF and Bayer to tiny family companies, together employing over 460,000 people.

Looking ahead, the VCI said 2020 was forecast to bring just 0.5 per cent growth in production and sales, with prices expected to remain stable.

“Our companies are currently not expecting any improvement in their business over the next months,” said VCI President Hans Van Bylen.

“The weak economic momentum will drag on into the coming year.”