Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2020

Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2020




€62,15 billion

Number of companies

> 11,000

R&D investment

€0.7 billion

Direct employees


National contact

Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry

Tomasz Zielinski, Ph.D., Eng.

President of The Board



Chemical industry snapshot

A heavyweight industry

The chemical industry has a very high position among industrial sectors of the Polish economy. The share of chemical industry in the total industry is 17%. The Polish chemical industry is developing dynamically, with a growth rate wich is second among the world’s largest economies.


The last decade shows that the chemical sector is one of the fastest growing areas in the Polish economy. The average annual growth rate of sales of the chemical sector in 2009-2018 amounted to 7,3% compared to 6,4% increase in sales of industrial processing in the corresponding period.


In 2018, the sales of the chemical industry, including manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics, amounted 62,15 billion EUR. Compared to value in 2017, it has increased by about 15%.


Production of the chemical industry in Poland is dispersed. Manufacturing plants of the largest domestic producers are located throughout the country. To reduce transport costs and increase competitiveness, processing plants are often located close to the companies manufacturing chemicals in primary forms.

A massive employer

In 2018, the chemical industry was the third largest employer in Poland, employing 315,000 people. It represents 12% of total employment in the entire Polish industry, which is more than in other industry sectors such as automotive, furniture or mining.

A trade deficit

Foreign trade plays a very important role in the chemical industry in Poland. A large part of raw materials and semi-finished products is imported for processing and consumption or for export abroad. 2017 saw a significant increase in the favorable trade balance of chemical processing, at 42% compared to the previous year.


At the same time, the unfavorable trade balance of chemistry decreased in volume terms, which shows that the use of semi-finished products manufactured in the country increased significantly.


Still Poland has a longstanding trade deficit in chemicals: in 2018 it was 7.7 billion EUR. The biggest deficit occurs in volume terms.

How are we doing?

The chemical industry, like other sectors of the economy, is shaped by global trends. The most important factors determining these changes are directions of new regulatory solutions and changes in consumer behavior. The most important trends shaping the chemical industry include regulations, ecology, customisation, geopolitics, new business models, industry 4.0 and innovation.


  • High resource and energy efficiency, especially in manufacturing fertilizers and petrochemicals
  • Well-educated and efficient labour force
  • Good supplier and customer relations
  • Good industrial R&D centres, university and technical university infrastructure
  • Safety expertise


  • High energy prices compared to nearby countries
  • Heat and power sourced from hard coal and lignite, with a big environmental impact
  • Heavy reliance on imported raw materials
  • Heavy reliance on gas imported from Russia: gas pipelines are still being modernised and connected to LNG import facilities. However, the level of diversification of gas supplies increases year to year
  • Poor rail infrastructure and high rail transport costs

Our contribution to a competitive Europe


In the coming years, enterprises plan to allocate the largest investment outlays for adaptation to environmental regulations as well as modernisation and replacement investments. Polish chemistry needs greater transparency and predictability of regulatory solutions as well as increased availability of financial support instruments for dynamic growth of innovations.


From 2012 to 2017, investment outlays in the Polish chemical industry recorded a steady increase until they reached 3,08 billion EUR. In turn, in 2018, according to estimates from the previous year, investment expenditure decreased by as much as 18,8%. However, it should be taken into account that these are estimates and may change.


The chemical industry is constantly taking measures to reduce its impact on the environment. It is an integral part of the process of change and development of the sector. For plants, it is not only the modernisation of installations, recognition and monitoring of threats or increasing efficiency, but also the improvement of safety in the production and distribution of chemical substances, as well as the implementation of modern, innovative, pro-environmental technologies.


One of the most important directions of pro-environmental investment are activities related to the protection of air and climate, which is directed at 85% of all ecological investments.


Polish chemical companies undertake number of activities aimed at implementing the main pillars of the sustainable development policy.


It is a series of initiatives aims to environmental protection, job development, employee safety and support for local communities. Activities which are taken by representatives of Polish chemistry enable the achievement of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 tasks, which were included in the UN Resolution “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” signed in September 2015 by 193 countries. Poland was one of them. The goals were officially introduced in 2016 and replaced the Millennium Development Goals, which were to be achieved by 2015.


The implementation of activities of the 2030 Agenda is one of the elements of the stable development and growth of Polish chemistry.