BRUSSELS—Chemical output in the European Union dropped by more than 5 percent in the first half of 2020, but there are signs of recovery within the industry, according to the latest quarterly report by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic).
The 5.2 percent decline mostly was attributed to the slowdown in demand from the COVID-19 pandemic across Europe. June data reported a 2.9 percent output growth in production compared to May, but still about 9 percent below the pre-crisis level of February.
According to Cefic, output has continued to recover gradually, and April's bottom-level "is hopefully behind us."
"We are now encouraged to see some first, although very modest, signs of recovery in the European chemical output," said Marco Mensink, Cefic director general.
The association warned that the "spill-over effect" of the crisis will continue to appear for a while.
"It is clear that the impact of the crisis varies between the sectors of the chemical industry and the overall decline in cross-sectoral manufacturing activity, including automotive and refining, is likely to affect the pace of some investments," said Mensink.
Among the largest European countries, France and Italy were the most impacted by the crisis with production falling at least 12 percent year-on-year during the first half of 2020, Cefic said. Spain and Portugal reported a drop of more than 6.5 percent, while Belgium and the Netherlands registered a decrease of about 6 percent during the same period. Germany's output fell 3.6 percent, while Poland posted a relatively small decline of 1.7 percent.
Outside the European Union, the United Kingdom reported a drop of 6.2 percent in chemical production.
Total sales (domestic and exports) in the EU27 chemical business posted a value of $237.4 billion for the first five months of 2020, 7.9 percent below the previous year's level. Cefic attributed the lower sales to the weak domestic demand in Europe and the deterioration of trade business environment.
Globally, Cefic said chemical output declined by 3.4 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019.