Annual stocktaking of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry in Germany
Good year 2018, less optimistic outlook for 2019
Chemical industry production: +2.5 percent; sales: +4.5 percent against 2017 ++ Another rise in employment to 462,000 staff (+2.0 percent) ++ Forecast 2019: production: +1.5 percent; sales: +2.5 percent ++ Growing risks in world trade.
The year 2018 saw good developments for the chemical-pharmaceutical industry in Germany, as emerged in the stocktaking by the German chemical industry association VCI at its annual press conference in Frankfurt. The industry’s sales increased by 4.5 percent to 204 billion euros, thus exceeding for the first time the 200 billion euro threshold. As compared with 2017, production grew by 2.5 percent and chemical prices went up by 2 percent.
VCI President Hans Van Bylen states: “Our industry can draw a positive balance for 2018 and once more outperformed a good previous year. However, the economic picture is not without flaws. Therefore, business sentiment in German chemical and pharmaceutical companies cooled towards the end of the year.”
Chemical sectors: The booming pharma production had a significant influence on the annual figures 2018, as it improved strongly by 11.5 percent – while the output fell in other sectors. In the present year, the production of inorganic basic chemicals dropped by 2.5 percent. There was a production decrease by 2 percent each for polymers and petrochemicals. Manufacturers of soaps, detergents and cleaning products or cosmetics produced 3 percent less than back in 2017. By contrast, the business with fine and specialty chemicals improved with a production increase by 1.5 percent in the overall year 2018.
Employment: The number of staff in the industry rose to a new record high. At present, the chemical industry has 462,000 staff (+2.0 percent).
Forecast 2019: „We think that modest growth in chemical business can be achieved in 2019,“ says Van Bylen. If there are no major setbacks, production in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry is anticipated to increase by 1.5 percent in the coming year. Chemical prices should rise by 1.0 percent. In this setting, the industry’s sales are likely to improve by 2.5 percent.
Growing risks in world trade
Beside the somewhat weaker economic situation in Germany and the restrained development of the global economy, the industry is faced with political challenges such as the trade conflicts of the USA with the EU and China and the approaching Brexit. According to Van Bylen, the trade order in which the German chemical and pharma industry achieves its successes is in danger.
In view of the growing risks in world trade, the VCI President emphasizes that the USA and China will accept only an economically strong and politically united Europe as a partner at eye level. Van Bylen holds that individual European countries alone have no chance of being heard on the world stage. A common European strategy is needed that relies on strengthening industry, free world trade and fair competition.
Van Bylen calls on the German federal government to bear in mind the long-term competitiveness of German industry: “Targeted political support is needed. In particular, this is about innovation and investments in research and develop-ment, stable and favourably priced energy supplies, the tax burden on companies, and an infrastructure that is viable for the future.”
Furthermore, the VCI President highlights the core topic of his term in office: “Chemistry is the future”. He stresses the chemical industry’s role as a future-oriented industry, with major contributions to solving the challenges of today and tomorrow. Van Bylen says: “No technical progress is conceivable without chemistry. We promote innovation, drive forward digitalisation and always act responsibly.”
All information around VCI's press conference - a table with key figures, 10 charts in diverse formats, the full statement of VCI president Hans Van Bylen as well as (from around 1 p.m.) a set of photos in high resolution - stands ready for you in the download section at the top of this page.
The VCI represents the politico-economic interests of around 1,700 German chemical companies and German subsidiaries of foreign businesses. For this purpose, the VCI is in contact with politicians, public authorities, other industries, science and media.The VCI stands for over 90 percent of the chemical industry in Germany. In 2018 the German chemical industry realised sales of over 204 billion euros and employed ca. 462,000 staff.