Barring a collapse of the U.S. economy, output in the German chemicals industry could surge 4.5% in 2000 compared with 1999, and sales could surge 7% on the year, the chemical industry association VCI says in its first-quarter report. Chemical-industry exports will rise in the first half of the year, but that rise will slow in the second half, VCI predicts. "The economic slowdown in the U.S. and a lessening of the impact of the euro's exchange rate will contribute to this," the report states. But rising demand in western Europe and Germany likely would -- at least partially -- offset a slowdown in exports to countries outside the euro zone. A U.S. economic crash would probably not lead to a recession in Europe, but would certainly cause a significant slowdown in chemical industry growth, VCI says. "Growth of more than 4% would not be reachable under these conditions. It would probably be less than 3%." However, such a recession scenario was not very likely for 2000, the report concludes.