UPDATE 1-German chemical industry expects 1.5 pct sales growth in 2014
* VCI sees 1.5 pct sales growth after 0.5 pct growth in '13
* Cites slow upward trend
* Outlook comes while collective wage talks ongoing
FRANKFURT, Dec 12 (Reuters) - German chemicals trade group VCI on Thursday forecast revenues growth at its member businesses to rise to 1.5 percent next year as the mood among European customers brightens.
"There will be an upward trend for the German chemical industry next year, but only a slow one," said the VCI's chairman, Karl-Ludwig Kley, who is also the chief executive of chemicals and drugs maker Merck KGaA.
The lobby group, which represents Germany's third-largest industrial sector, expects sales to grow 0.5 percent this year.
Output volumes are likely to increase by 2 percent in 2014 after an expected gain of 1.5 percent in 2013, it added.
VCI last month cut its 2013 forecast for the third time this year, citing lower prices and a sluggish export business.
The subdued outlook comes shortly after the start of collective bargaining over industry pay.
German chemical industry workers have said they want 5.5 percent more pay, citing improving business conditions. The industry's employers association has rejected the demands, saying they are far from realistic.
The largest German chemical companies are BASF, Evonik, Bayer and Lanxess.
Major foreign producers such as Dow Chemical, DuPont and LyondellBasell also operate sites in Germany, which is Europe's largest chemical producing nation.
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