Chemistry in a Difficult Environment

Chemistry in a Difficult Environment


2019 was a difficult year for the German chemical-pharmaceutical industry. Sales of Germany’s third-largest industry fell by 5 % to 193 billion euros, reported the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI; Verband der Chemieschen Industrie) at their press conference.

The global economic downturn and trade disputes between China and the USA harmed the business in overseas and Europe. At the same time, domestic demand for chemical products from industrial customers declined. As a result, total production fell by 7.5 %. This figure is strongly influenced by a special statistical effect in the pharmaceuticals sector: -16.5 %. Chemicals excluding pharmaceuticals recorded a decline in production of 2.5 %. Except for consumer-related products such as detergents and personal care products (+1.0 %) and inorganic basic chemicals (+1.0 %), all other sectors reported a decline in volumes in 2019.

Despite the weak situation of the chemical economy, the number of employees increased slightly (+0.5 %) to 464,800. This is the highest level of employment since 2001, according to the VCI. 50,000 additional jobs have been created in the industry in the past nine years.

Currently, the VCI does not expect any improvement in business in the coming months. The low economic momentum will continue well into the coming year. Foreign markets are also unlikely to provide any strong impetus for a trend reversal in the chemical industry. For 2020, the VCI, therefore, expects only a slight production increase by 0.5 % for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. This is expected to be driven by growth in the pharmaceuticals section (+2.0 %). With prices stagnating, the industry’s total sales should increase by 0.5 % to around 194 billion euros.




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