Corona People and Leaders

French Chemical Industry Facing Corona

Interview with Magali Smets, managing director of the French Chemical Federation (France Chimie), on the consequences of the Corona virus on the French chemical industry.

Are chemical production sites still operating or are they slowing down?

Our production is essential to ensure health, hygiene, food security of our fellow citizens, as well as the supply of vital services (water, energy, sanitation).

The production sites continue to operate as much as possible, while ensuring the safety and health of employees, subcontractors and residents.

Our companies, key suppliers of all economic sectors, have integrated into their business continuity plan the specifics of the unprecedented health situation that we are currently going through.

They have adapted their organizations in order to apply the government’s recommendations in the areas of telework and the protection of vulnerable populations.

On production sites and headquarters remain mobilized.

Are there segments of chemistry more hit than other?

It is too early to say. We have launched a “Monitoring” with France Chimie members to assess the impact of the Covid 19 crisis on sales, export and supply.

Most of the impact still has to come, but a small number of companies have already stopped operations.

For them, the measures put in place by the government will be very useful.

We also relay regularly to all our members.

Now, we are also observing strong demands for hygiene products, hydroalcoholic gel and, in turn, all the substances upstream.

A growing number of our members have taken the initiative to launch the production of gel, a decree giving temporary authorization to ICPE establishments to distribute them.

Is the sector affected by employees who wish to exercise their right of withdrawal?

In terms of liability, companies comply with the prescriptions that have been formulated to protect their employees (barrier, safety distance, disinfection, etc.).

The government reiterated the importance of maintaining business continuity.

Where are the most critical points – logistics, operational management, security, etc.?

We are beginning to observe difficulties linked to the absence of staff, subcontractors and suppliers.

Logistics issues become a critical point.

These are sometimes very practical questions: we must continue to ensure adequate working conditions for drivers (access to showers and restaurants for truckers, provision of soap in the sanitary facilities, hydroalcoholic gel, etc.).

We also depend on rail freight, major ports or intra-community flows.

The priority nature of our flows must be understood. All of these points have been brought up to the departments.

What are the risks of stopping chemical platforms? Will there be restart difficulties?

The upstream chemistry processes are often continuous and some of our factories are not designed to go no-go. Hence the importance of implementing business continuity plans.

Is there a noticeable drop in demand from certain downstream markets?

We can of course expect an impact from the closings of certain factories in France, such as those of the automobile sector.

Now, I would remind you that chemistry production in France accounts for 70% of export markets.

Our international partners are waiting for our productions.

Some sectors that stopped face massive late payment penalties from their international customers.

It is important to ensure the support of all our activities so as to preserve our industrial capacity in the long term.

 

REFS

Published on info-chimie.fr

Covid-19 : entretien exclusif avec Magali Smets, directrice générale de France Chimie

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