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BASF: The UK should stay in the EU

By Hamish Champ
Posted 27 February 2013

The UK would be sorely missed if the country exited the European Union (EU) following any ‘in/out’ referendum, according to BASF chairman Kurt Bock.

Speaking as the German chemicals giant announced its annuals results in Ludwigshafen yesterday, Bock said he “sincerely hoped” that people in the UK would choose to vote to stay inside the EU if a referendum, recently proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron, were to take place in four years’ time.

“The UK is liberal and pragmatic and the EU needs this. It acts as a balance [to other countries],” he said.

As a firm believer in the benefits of a market-driven economy versus domination by the state – a philosophy held by the Conservative-led coalition government – Bock said the UK had a lot to offer the region and he looked forward to its continued presence in the EU.

Presenting BASF’s annual results, which included sales up 7% to €78.7bn (£67.8bn) and earnings before interest, tax and special items of €8.9bn (£7.7bn), Bock said the group expected “a gradual decline” in global economic uncertainty, an increase in investor and consumer confidence, and an upturn in the chemical industry “primarily supported by stronger growth in the emerging markets”.

These aspirations were dependent upon world economic growth of 2.4%, compared with 2.2% in 2012; global chemical production growth of 3.6% (2.6%), an average euro/dollar exchange rate of $1.30 per euro ($1.28) and an average oil price of $110 (£72.52)/barrel ($112 (£73.82)).

BASF was meanwhile on-track with its STEP programme to cut costs, improve productivity – which has seen its divisions reduced from six to five – and add “around €1bn (£862m) to earnings annually from 2015”, Bock added.

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