With 2016 sales of €35.7 billion, the chemical industry, including pharmaceuticals and rubber and plastics, is the second largest industry in Poland after food processing. It accounts for almost 12% of turnover of industrial output, ahead of motor vehicles.
The sector employs 279,000 people: 74,000 in chemicals, 23,000 in pharmaceuticals and 182,000 in production of rubber products and plastics goods.
Polish chemical production covers all segments of the industry: basic organics and inorganics, petrochemicals, polymers, agrochemicals, specialties, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Basic chemicals account for over 65% of chemical production. Yet that strength also reflects a weakness.
Poland has a longstanding trade deficit in chemicals: in 2016 it was €7.5 billion. The biggest deficit occurs in pharmaceuticals, primary-form plastics chemical products and organic chemicals. The chemical industry location is concentrated in southern Poland.
There are also large chemical sites in north-west Poland near the border with Germany, and in central and eastern Poland. Manufacturers include some leading international chemical companies.