Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2018

Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2018




€> 35 billion

Number of companies

> 11,000

R&D investment

€0.7 billion

Direct employees


National contact

Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry

Tomasz Zielinski

President of The Board



Chemical industry snapshot

A heavyweight industry

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.

A massive employer

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.

A trade deficit

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.

How are we doing?


  • 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 upon imported raw materials
  • Heavy reliance upon 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

Strategy for sustainable development

On 16 February 2016 the government adopted a national strategy for sustainable development. It aims to develop the Polish economy, and companies, including their productivity and foreign expansion, promoting investment   and   innovation, including better   cooperation   between   science   and   business.   Chemicals are a key sector.

The government’s 2020 goals include:

  • Increasing investment to over 25% of GDP
  • Raising R&D spending to 2% of GDP from 8% today
  • Raising the number of medium-sized and large enterprises to over 22,000
  • 70% increase in Foreign Direct Investment by Polish companies
  • Industrial production growth to outpace GDP growth
  • Polish GDP per capita to reach 79% of the EU average

Supporting adoption of new technologies

Sectoral programmes will support the adoption of new technologies and products, including the INNOCHEM programme dedicated for chemicals.


This is underpinned by range of activities and initiatives:

  • StartInPoland programme – commercialisation of innovative solutions created by start-ups
  • Rapid decisions on support for initiatives with the biggest innovation impact (so-called “first speed” programmes)
  • Reform of scientific and research institutes to make them work better for the economy
  • New acts supporting and improving legal aspects of innovation activity

Building links between industry and academia

Despite past successes, links between industry and research/universities are weak: they are to be rebuilt.


Chemical consumption per head remains below the EU average. The chemical industry should develop production of more high value added products.