Global Markets

Chemical Manufacturing

Delaware's chemical companies can leverage the growing international demand for primary chemical materials such as plastics and resins.



Chemical Manufacturing

DuPont, one of the world's first and largest chemical manufacturing companies, has been operating in Delaware for more than 200 years. Pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, plastics, and other synthetics are Delaware's primary manufactured products, and the chemical industry is among the State's top sectors for employment and revenue. Multinational companies such as Siemens, along with innovative startups like Sepax Technologies and Supercritical Fluids, continue to benefit from the State's long legacy in the industry and from the vast talent pool in the area.

The University of Delaware is ranked 10th in the nation for chemical engineering and has ranked in the top 25 U.S producers of ACS-certified B.S. chemistry graduates for 18 consecutive years. Its graduate programs in Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are nationally ranked and include some of the world's top scientists, among them Richard F. Heck, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

International demand for products and raw materials present opportunities for Delaware's chemical manufacturers to expand operations and open new markets.

Global Market

With the world's population projected to reach 10 billion by the year 2050, global chemical companies around the world are retooling to provide solutions to produce enough food to feed the planet in a sustainable manner. There is growing demand for products and processes that will maximize land productivity while protecting natural resources, and to increase crop yields while using less water. Traditional chemical giants are partnering with smaller bioscience companies to respond to this global demand for product innovation.

Trade data suggests that for companies considering a move to sustainable agro-chemicals, as well as opportunities for other subsectors in the chemical industry, the markets with the strongest potential for export opportunity are Mexico, Canada, Brazil and South Korea.


  • Mexico imported $6.6 billion of organic chemicals, $2.5 billion of miscellaneous chemical products, and $9.2 billion of plastic and rubber products from the U.S. last year.
  • Mexican demand for plastics is driven heavily by the automotive and food and beverage industries, while increased demand is projected for agro-industrial chemicals as well as the automotive and construction sectors. Engineering plastics and synthetic rubbers are also in demand.
  • The best market prospects for export activity include resins, thermoplastics, nylon, and thermoset. There is likely also significant opportunity in agricultural chemicals, as indicated by Monsanto's activity in the country.

  • Canada imported $4.2 billion of organic chemicals and another $4.8 billion in miscellaneous chemicals from the U.S. last year.
  • The best market opportunities in the country include agricultural chemicals for sustainable agriculture.

  • Although Brazil has the 6th largest chemical industry in the world, it is not self-sufficient; last year, the country imported $2.3 billion of organic chemicals from the U.S.
  • The best prospects for U.S. chemical exporters include industrial chemicals, fertilizers, agrochemicals, cleaning products, paints and varnishes, and synthetic and artificial fibers.
  • There are also opportunities in sustainable agriculture.
South Korea:

  • South Korea imported $1.0 billion of miscellaneous chemical products and $1.5 billion in plastics from the U.S. last year.
  • The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement eliminates tariffs on all U.S. fertilizer and agro-chemicals; more than 82 percent of U.S. chemical exports will be duty-free by the end of 2015.
  • Opportunities for exports include specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals for the medical and cosmetic industries.


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