In 2009, total annual sales of industrial chemicals decreased by 13.5% over 2008. The difficult situation led to preliminary chemical plant shutdowns in Germany to reduce production capacities. Over the same period, German chemical exports decreased by 12% and imports by 11%. U.S. imports to Germany still reached USD 14.5 billion, declining only 8%. The year 2010 started with an improved outlook for the German chemical industry. Local production capacities have increased. It will take a year or longer for the German chemical market to return to its pre-2009 size. During this period, an increased demand for imported chemicals is likely. It will offer U.S. firms additional opportunities in the German chemical market, particularly in view of the still favorable USD/EUR exchange rate.
In the past, at times U.S. firms have supplied more than 10% of German total chemical imports. The German chemicals market offers U.S. manufacturers of innovativechemicals best prospects. Of particular interest are “white biotechnology” products - industrial chemicals produced by means of biotechnology; chemicals enhanced by, or based on, nano-materials; and new polymer-based materials which can replace silicium- based components or serve as organic light emitting diodes.