Companies headquartered in Asia Pacific were able to increase sales by 5% in local-currency terms in 2013; in euro terms, sales matched the prior-year level, reaching €11,679 million. We increased sales volumes despite the difficult business environment. We saw high demand, especially in the Intermediates, Catalysts and Coatings divisions. However, higher sales volumes could not fully compensate for negative currency effects and declining prices.
Income from operations before special items declined by 5% to €842 million. This was largely attributable to weaker margins in the Chemicals and Performance Products segments.
In initiating our regional “Grow smartly” strategy, we will further strengthen our research and development presence in Asia Pacific through, for example, a battery materials laboratory in Japan and a center for electronic materials in Korea. By 2020, we aim to increase the proportion of sales in Asia Pacific from local production to around 75%. We started up production plants for brake fluid in Shanghai, China, and for tert-Butylamine in Nanjing, China, in 2013. Furthermore, we began construction on plants for isononanol in Maoming, China, and for automotive coatings and Ultramid® in Shanghai, China. We are expanding our production of mobile emissions catalysts in Chennai, India. To increase our profitability, we started a new program in 2013 to improve our regional structures. The goal here is to make our organization more efficient and even more closely aligned with our customers’ needs.