In 2020, there were a total of about 3,100 chemical companies in Germany, 96 percent of which were SMEs. This so-called German Mittelstand earns about one third of chemical industry revenue and contributes 40 percent of the workforce. This section of the German economy is globally well known for innovation – and as the backbone of the German chemical industry, it is also a key market opportunity.
Leading the industry in Europe
Germany’s chemical industry is a major presence both in Europe and globally, with an extremely well-prepared workforce, tremendous research resources, and an efficient and networked production landscape.
Central locationGermany’s central location in Europe gives access to 500 million European Union customers.
SalesIn 2020, German sales accounted for 32 percent of the total EUR 499 billion, third in the world behind China and the USA.
Industry revenueGermany has the largest chemical industry in Europe. The industry revenue in 2020 amounted to EUR 160 billion, third in the world behind China and the USA.
WorkforceThe highly-trained German chemical industry workforce is 350,000 strong.
From mid-range companies to the global market
European export leaderGermany is a major player in the global chemical industry export market and accounts for 70 percent of the European export market.
Global weightIn 2020, Germany was the third largest global exporter of chemical products, surpassed only by the US and China.
Market shareGerman chemical industry exports had a value of EUR 104 billion and a global market share of 9.4 percent in 2020.
Customer marketMore than 70 percent of German exports remain in Europe.
Industrial clients present one of the strongest opportunities in the chemical industry. Industrial clients in sectors such as automotive (which reported sales of more than EUR 400 billion in 2019), take the chemical industry with them when they expand into new markets.
Public and private support for innovation
Germany spent EUR 110 billion on R&D in 2019 corresponding to 3,2 percent of GDP. Cooperation between the public and the private sector fuels innovation development: 70 percent of R&D spending came from companies and 23 percent from the federal government, largely allocated to universities and other research institutions like the Leibniz Association.
Germany is Europe's leader in innovationChemical registrations for the European Patent Office in 2019 in percent:
Chemical Patents Granted in 2019 by the European Patent Office, in percent
|42||Rest of the world|| percent|
Stability, efficiency, security, and infrastructure for investment
Steady rise in German chemical companiesRevenue rise from 1960 to 2020 in EUR billion:
|598||1970||Employees in thousand|
|568||1980||Employees in thousand|
|568||1990||Employees in thousand|
|470||2000||Employees in thousand|
|415||2010||Employees in thousand|
|464||2020||Employees in thousand|
Germany’s integrated chemical parks serve the biggest players in the German and global chemical industry, with a production base in the country. With a plug and play concept, these chemical parks offer excellent connections to infrastructure and on-site services for international investors. In addition to production-related services, investors can choose additional services, such as warehousing, logistics and analytics.
PipelineAround one third of chemicals are transported by pipeline and a complex network of pipelines for distributing crude oil.
Refineries13 refineries and eight steam-cracking plants supply the chemical industry with everything it needs for organic chemistry.
RailGermany’s rail system includes 43,470 km of railway track. Germany’s high-speed railway network is the eighth largest in the world and connects the country to nine neighbouring countries.
WaterwaysThere are over 250 inland ports in Germany that serve the country’s chemical complexes.
A top location for European FDI
Germany as an ideal location to attract chemical FDI projects to the countryGerman FDI projects compared to other European states from 2014–2018, in number of projects:
Germany offers highly developed structures for the chemical industry in terms of infrastructure, research, production facilities, and domestic and global market access. As a global leader in the chemical industry with a highly-trained workforce, Germany is a sophisticated partner for foreign investment.