BERLIN—Germany’s BDI industry association said on Thursday it expected Europe’s largest economy to grow 3.5 percent this year, giving a more cautious forecast than the government as it warned companies could face another “stop-and-go year” due to the pandemic.
“The order books are full, but production is not keeping pace with demand. Pandemic restrictions and supply bottlenecks affect large parts of the economy,” BDI President Siegfried Russwurm said.
The BDI forecast is less optimistic than the government’s estimates, published in October, in which Berlin predicted gross domestic product growth to accelerate to 4.1 percent this year from an estimated 2.6 percent in 2021.
The industry lobby group said it expected export growth to halve to some 4 percent this year, pointing to supply problems with microchips and other important components which have hit production in Germany’s large automobile sector badly.
Russwurm said the Omicron coronavirus variant was clouding the growth outlook around the world, with Germany, in particular, being exposed to the risk of China, its biggest trading partner, becoming paralyzed again if authorities there reacted to a renewed spread with its strict “zero COVID” lockdown measures.
Also, Germany on Thursday morning reported a record 81,417 new infections over the past 24 hours due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. Its seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people jumped to 427.7, quickly approaching the country’s all-time high of 452 reached late November.