Companies in this industry manufacture basic, intermediate, and specialty chemicals. Major companies include Dow and DuPont (both based in the US), BASF (Germany), INEOS Group (UK), LyondellBasell (the Netherlands), Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan), and Roche (Switzerland).
The global chemical manufacturing industry generates about $5 trillion in annual revenue. China, the US, Japan, and Germany produce the most chemicals and also are among the largest importers of chemicals. Countries in Asia (China, Thailand, India), the Middle East (Saudi Arabia), Eastern Europe (Russia), and South America (Brazil) are being targeted for industry growth.
The US chemical manufacturing industry includes about 10,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $820 billion.
Because chemicals are used to make a wide variety of industrial and consumer products, demand is driven by the overall health of the US economy. The profitability of individual companies is closely tied to efficient operations. Big companies have economies of scale in purchasing and production. Small companies can compete effectively by producing specialty products, of which there are a large number, or by operating a single plant highly efficiently. The US industry is concentrated: the top 50 companies account for about 55 percent of revenue.
Many specialty chemicals are protected by patents, either for the product itself or the manufacturing process, and have no direct competition. Indirect competition comes from products with similar properties. Patents are especially important to many smaller manufacturers, which may license their product or technology to...