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Chemicals: Protectionism hampers global supply chains

Current CHEMonitor study by CAMELOT analyzes the influences on global supply chains in the German chemical industry

Basel, Mannheim, May 9th, 2017 – Protectionism and geopolitical crises will be the main issues influencing the German chemical companies’ supply chains over the next two years. Somewhat further behind in the list comes sustainability in the supply chain, digitalization and the price of oil. The significance of China as a trading partner will gain in importance, while Donald Trump’s protectionist policy weakens the attractiveness of the USA as a partner for Germany’s chemical industry. The consideration of sustainability criteria in the supply chain will become an important competitive factor. These are the results of the current CHEMonitor trend survey by CAMELOT Management Consultants and the specialist newspaper CHEManager.

“Germany and Western Europe are becoming increasingly attractive as key markets for the German chemical industry. Outside of Europe, strongly influenced by protectionism and geopolitical crises, global supply chains will increasingly focus on China and Asia over the next few years. North America is dominated by uncertainty”, says Dr. Josef Packowski, Managing Partner at CAMELOT, summarizing the economic results of the 28th CHEMonitor survey. More than 200 top decision makers in the German chemicals industry are consulted twice each year for CHEMonitor’s trend barometer.

In the current CHEMonitor survey, the German chemical company managers cited protectionism (51%) and geopolitical crises (45%) as the two developments with the greatest impact on their company’s own supply chain over the coming two years. Only one in five chemical industry managers think that free trade agreements could significantly influence their own supply chain.

Trade with China and the USA

Around a third of those questioned expect better export and import conditions in their trade dealings with China over the next two years. There is a clear trend to the contrary with regard to the USA. Since Trump was elected as president, his protectionist policy has lessened the attractiveness of the USA as a partner for the German chemical industry. In March 2017, more than three quarters of chemical industry managers surveyed reckoned with poorer conditions for overseas exports in the short term. Half of them also expect chemical imports from the USA to Germany to be hindered.

Sustainability in the supply chain as competitive factor

Against the background of the G20 process and the sustainability targets of the United Nations, chemical industry managers were also questioned on the subject of sustainability in the supply chain. Dr. Sven Mandewirth, partner and chemical expert at CAMELOT, summarizes the results: “In the long term, sustainability will be an important competitive factor in the global supply chain. This is still the belief of fewer than 50% of German chemical industry managers. The potential is therefore great”.

There are significant differences between large and medium-sized chemical companies when it comes to taking sustainability criteria in the supply chain into account. While 79% of managers from the larger chemical companies responded by saying that their suppliers are evaluated based on sustainability criteria, for medium-sized companies, the figure was only 35%. A very large proportion of the large chemical companies take criteria such as human rights (83%), working conditions (79%), corruption assessment (71%) and environment and climate protection (67%) into account, in addition to the classic criteria of quality and price. In medium-sized companies, these issues only play a role in supplier evaluation in 35 – 45% of companies.

The current CHEMonitor study is available free of charge at www.camelot-mc.com.

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