Competitiveness of the EU chemical industry in the global market


Moncef Hadhri
Cefic Industrial Policy, Belgium

The European chemical industry is of major importance for economic development and wealth, providing modern products and materials and enabling solutions in virtually all sectors. It is a wealth generating sector of the economy, and a valuable part of Europe’s economic infrastructure. It aims to provide solutions for the achievement of a competitive, low carbon and circular economy in Europe and beyond. The European chemical industry is highly successful. Traditionally, it has been a world leader in chemicals production.

Where are we today?
Having ridden out the recession, the European chemical industry is continuing its recovery. Today, with 15% market share, the EU chemical industry ranks second, along with the United States (14.2%). China continues to dominate chemicals world ranking in 2016, and contributed to nearly 40% of global chemicals sales. But, while European chemical sales have continued to grow over the past 20 years, Europe’s share of global sales over the same period has declined from 32% in 1996 to 15% in 2016. This decrease is primarily due to declining competitiveness, as opposed to slow-growing destination markets.