Using the Chances of Chemistry 4.0 for a Strong Location
Industrial Policy: Using the Chances of Chemistry 4.0
Arguments and Positions
Industry is the basis for Germany’s economic strength. With its products and innovations, the chemical-pharmaceutical industry contributes decisively to the success of the location Germany.
Major challenges for German companies
Companies are operating in a rapidly changing environment. International competitive pressure is increasing constantly, and the industrial policies of China and the USA are transforming the economic order as a whole. At the same time, the challenges of climate and environ-mental protection are growing, so that established production methods are reaching their inherent limits and lose social acceptance.
Last but not least, many fields of technology are undergoing radical change: New processes are altering the economy and thus also society – from biotechnology, digitalisation and new drive systems to the circular economy.
National Industry Strategy 2030 spurs the discussion
In early February 2019, federal economics minister Altmaier outlined his „National Industry Strategy 2030“, triggering a long-overdue debate. Altmaier focuses on the global competition between the industrial and technology policies of central industrial nations. He wants to develop concrete measures by end 2019 – with an involvement of stakeholders.
Good industrial policy has to strengthen the location
Altmaier’s strategy is thought-provoking. So far, it strongly relies on selectively promoting individual fields of technology and protecting domestic industries. This approach lacks an openness to different technologies – whereas an innovation-friendly environment and better location conditions are most important for the chemical industry. A particular strength of the location Germany is the „Mittelstand“, i.e. mid-sized enterprises. This needs to be taken into account in the „Industry Strategy 2030“, just like the European dimension.
Demonstrate capacity to act on EU level
German industry is part of the European network of industries. Especially in competition and in negotiations with the USA and China, the EU should throw its entire political and eco-nomic weight in the balance. Europe needs more courage for unity and a strong external presence.
- An industry strategy for a strong location
Federal economics minister Altmaier has triggered an important debate with his industrial policy strategy. Now, a package of measures is needed that strengthens the industry location in a truly substantial manner: new growth impulses from digitalisation and circular economy are required for a modern, innovative and sustainable industry. Furthermore, the German strategy needs to be embedded in Europe.
- Create openness and scope for innovation
The following is recommended for more innovations from Germany that subsequently create value: research promotion with an open mind to a wide range of technologies, well-funded project support, and easier access to venture capital. Also needed is a science-based societal dialogue on the potentials and risks of new technologies.
- Improve the location conditions for investment and production
An industrial policy should provide impetus for investment and production. The policy should tackle urgent infrastructure investments, support the digitalisation of industry, make further efforts for trade liberalisation, and ensure that regulation is efficient, unbureaucratic and legally sound. Moreover, Germany should face up to the international tax competition.