Germany needs to strengthen competitiveness – chem group

01 July 2010 17:33  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany needs to strengthen its chemicals sector as the economic crisis has accelerated the shift of power from "classical industrial countries" to emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere, a regional chemical producers group said on Thursday.

“We can only remain competitive if we retain a global lead,” said Herbert Stein, head of Chemieverbande Rheinland-Pfalz, a regional chemical producers group in BASF’s home state of Rhineland-Palatine.

Stein urged the country’s government to take measures to safeguard and promote competitive chemical production in Germany.

“Production, as well as research and development need to be promoted, rather than hindered,” he said.

Importantly, parliament needed to enshrine an important collective bargaining principle, Tarifeinheit, into law to ensure that Germany continued to have stable labour relations, he said.

The principle stipulates that there is only one collective bargaining deal per plant. However, Germany’s top labour court said in a far-reaching ruling this month it would henceforth no longer recognise this principle, opening the door for separate collective agreements for various groups of workers within one plant or facility.

In related news on Thursday, BASF chief executive Jurgen Hambrecht said the rise of Asia’s economies was a “big opportunity” for German producers engaged in the region, as well as for Germany as a site for industrial production.

However, in order to succeed, Germany needed to be a global leader in innovation, which meant that the country needed to prioritise education, science and research, Hambrecht said.

Hambrecht has served since July 2006 as head of the Asia-Pacific committee of Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI), Germany’s top industrial trade group. He will step down from that role on Friday, to be succeeded by Siemens chief executive Peter Loscher.

Germany’s exports to Asia, and in particular China, continued to rise even as overall exporters suffered a setback last year amid the global recession, according to BDI.

Asia accounted for about 11% of overall German exports, a percentage share that was “expandable” going forward, the group said.

For more on BASF and other producers visit ICIS company intelligence
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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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