VCI, Germany’s main chemical industry association, says the country’s chemical sector is on course for a 3% drop in production and a 6% decline in sales for 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A return to prepandemic performance levels will not occur before the end of 2021, the association states in a financial report. In the first half of 2020, production and sales were down 2.5 and 6.1%, respectively, compared with the same period a year earlier. Below the headline figures, VCI highlights specific areas of concern, including a drop in plant-capacity use to 77.5% and a lack of orders at one in fourcompanies. Despite the negative outlook, VCI sees reason for optimism, with a member poll indicating that operational disruption caused by the pandemic is declining and that domestic and international demand is showing signs of picking up slightly. “We are seeing the first signs of recovery,” Christian Kullmann, president of VCI and chairman of Evonik Industries, says in a press release.