Report | 2007

The Role of Clusters in the Chemical Industry

by Christian H.M. Ketels


The European Chemical Industry, still in the leading position globally, is under intense competitive pressure from emerging locations in Asia and the Middle East. After first reacting by efficiency upgrading within companies and then pursuing outsourcing and aggressive cost pressure on suppliers, especially in logistics, chemical companies have come to the realiziation that these efforts alone will not be sufficient. They are turning to cluster efforts to organize joint action to upgrade competitiveness. This also offers new opportunities to change the dialogue with government, an important player for regulation and infrastructure, that had become increasingly dysfunctional in the debate around the European Union's REACH regulation on chemical substances. This report provides data on European Chemical clusters and on global trade flows in the chemical cluster, drawing on a new European employment data set ( and an HBS trade data set ( It also discusses the context for cluster initiatives in the chemical industry.

Keywords: Trade; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Industry Clusters; Business and Government Relations; Competitive Strategy; Chemical Industry; Asia; Europe; Middle East;


Ketels, Christian H.M. "The Role of Clusters in the Chemical Industry." Report, 2007. (Prepared for the Annual Conference of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA))