In 2016, there were a total of 3,100 chemical companies in Germany, 96 percent of which were SMEs. This so-called German Mittelstand earns 30 percent 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 and beyond
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 2017, German sales accounted for 29 percent of the total EUR 537 billion sales in the European market.
Industry revenueGermany has the largest chemical industry in Europe. The industry revenue in 2015 amounted to EUR 148 billion, third in the world behind China and the USA.
WorkforceThe highly-trained German chemical industry workforce is 340,000 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 2017, Germany was the second largest global exporter of chemical products.
Market shareGerman chemical industry exports had a value of EUR 107 billion and a global market share of 9.6 percent in 2017.
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 2017), take the chemical industry with them when they expand into new markets.
Public and private support for innovation
Germany spent EUR 92 billion on R&D in 2016. From 1996 to 2016, there was an average annual growth rate in spending of 4 percent. 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 2017 in percent:
|40||Rest of the world|| percent|
Stability, efficiency, security, and infrastructure for investment
Steady rise in German chemical companiesRevenue rise from 1960 to 2010 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|
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.
The chemical industry relies on a stable, reliable energy supply. Germany had the third most stable power grid in Europe in 2016, with only 13 minutes of productivity lost to power outages each year. Germany’s energy supply is also widely diversified for added stability, with 40 percent of electricity drawn from lignite and hard coal, 13 percent from nuclear power, and 9 percent from natural gas. In 2017, 38 percent of Germany’s energy came from renewable sources (up 38 percent from 3 percent in 1995).
A top location for European FDI
Germany as an ideal location to attract FDI projects to the countryGerman FDI projects compared to other European states from 2013–2017, 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.