Frankfurt, Germany – The German chemical-pharmaceutical industry ended the “Corona year” with a positive fourth quarter, but the sector's overall annual performance was below the 2019 levels, according to a recent quarterly report published by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI).
During the final three months of 2020, Germany’s third largest industry saw production and sales significantly increase, driven by both local and global demand, said the 16 March report.
Production rose by 7.4% quarter-on-quarter and 4% year-on-year, while capacity utilisation rates improved from 81.6% to 85% sequentially.
Industry sales also jumped 8.1% quarter-on-quarter to €47 billion. Compared to a year before, sales were down 0.6%, said VCI.
Chemical prices continued their recovery during the course of the quarter, as prices improved 0.4% sequentially. Prices, however, were 1.7% lower compared to the same quarter in 2019.
Overall, the fourth quarter recovery, said VCI, "was not enough to turn the 2020 annual balance into positive territory."
Citing a recent survey, VCI said the outlook remained “partly clouded” for the near future, with almost every member expecting a setback in the first quarter.
In addition to long lockdowns, VCI said some companies are currently facing material shortages and logistics problems.
For the full year, the association expects chemical production to grow by 3%, prices to go up by 2% and sales to increase by 5% to €200 billion.
“If the industrial economy continues to develop positively over the year, then the signs are good for the chemical industry. Stronger fluctuations in demand are possible, however,” said VCI general manager Wolfgang Große Entrup.