Germany petchem firms expect big uptick in orders - Ifo

Author: Jonathan Lopez

2021/02/23

LONDON (ICIS)--As the global economy revives from the pandemic-induced slump, Germany’s export-orientated, petrochemicals-intensive manufacturers are expecting a significant uptick in orders over the coming months, research institute Ifo said on Tuesday.

Ifo’s Export Expectations index rose during February to its highest since September 2018, despite the European economy, a key consumer for German products, being one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

The more positive sentiment among German manufacturers was based on China’s good economic performance as well as an increase in US production, said Ifo.

“The chemical industry expects significant export growth, as do manufacturers of machinery and equipment,” said Ifo president Clemens Fuest.

“Automotive manufacturers have put a three-month lull behind them and are once again expecting more orders from abroad.”

Expectations among electrical equipment producers were particularly bright, at their highest since February 2018.

“However, the furniture and clothing industries still face difficulties in the international market, with companies expecting a significant decline in sales,” added Fuest.

Germany’s economy is the largest within the eurozone, and its industrial sectors, which are key end consumers for petrochemicals, still account for 20% of GDP.

The German chemicals industry is the largest in Europe. closing 2020 with 460,000 workers employed directly.

Last year, the German economy also managed to weather the pandemic storm better than its peers, with its GDP falling around half that of other major eurozone economies.

While its manufacturing sectors took a hit in the first wave of the pandemic, they have fared better during the second wave that has forced a partial lockdown until March to stop the spread of the virus.

Together with the Zew institute’s research, Ifo’s analysis is widely seen as the best reference for the private sector’s performance; the two are private bodies.

These institutions base their analysis on surveys conducted among German corporates to get a hint of order books and expectations.

This month, both said the German economy was heading for better times. Ifo said this week sentiment was booming, based precisely on a significant uptick in exports.

Earlier in February, Zew said that as the global health emergency could be entering the beginning of the end, other factors like Joe Biden’s presidency in the US could be “a ray of hope” for global economic improvement.

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Front page picture: Containers in he free harbor in Bremerhaven, Germany; archive image 
Source: Martin Meissner/AP/Shutterstock