Why Catalonia: BASF's Choice for Southern Europe's Main Chemical Hub

25 Jan 2024

Business Investments · Chemistry & Sustainability

Content available in: German

Discover why Catalonia stands out as the top choice for businesses in the chemical industry, as demonstrated by the 50-year success story of BASF. Explore the strategic advantages that make Catalonia, particularly Tarragona, the main chemical hub in Southern Europe.

German company BASF has proudly called Catalonia home for over five decades, marking its inception in Tarragona in 1969. Tarragona continues to serve as BASF's primary chemical hub in Southern Europe, reflecting a longstanding commitment to the region.

Catalonia hosts BASF's production of petrochemicals, dispersions for paintings, agricultural products, polyurethanes, and detergency products for the cosmetic and detergent industries. With a workforce of 2,700 in Spain, half of them located in Tarragona and Barcelona, BASF contributes significantly to the local economy.

“Catalonia has very positive conditions for the chemical industry: the infrastructure, research centers of the highest level, access to talent and competitive costs”

Carles Navarro, Managing Director BASF Spain

Strategic Insights from Carles Navarro, Managing Director of BASF Spain

Carles Navarro, Managing Director of BASF Spain, explains that the Tarragona site plays a strategic role in BASF's European operations. "Barcelona and Catalonia have very positive conditions for the chemical industry," he says, pointing out that 40% of the total production of the chemical industry in Spain comes from Catalonia.

According to Carles Navarro, Tarragona, and Catalonia are the most important chemical hubs in southern Europe for several reasons: "There is a combination of infrastructure and proximity to academic and research centers of the highest level. In Tarragona, for example, we have the ICIQ, the Catalan Chemical Research Institute. We also have very good universities, so we have access to talent. And competitive costs”. He outlines the highlights of the proximity to the sea: “In the case of Tarragona, this plays an important role in the transportation of finished goods and raw materials.”

Dynamic chemical cluster in Tarragona

In Tarragona, the chemical cluster plays a significant role in the dynamism of the industry. “Many companies operating in chemistry collaborate with each other and create an ecosystem that fosters the growth of the whole sector in our region,” says Navarro. From Catalonia, BASF has a significant export activity, especially from Tarragona. Around 100 million worth of goods are exported every year from Catalonia to other countries, such as Germany, France, Italy, and other markets overseas and in the Middle East.

BASF’s recent investments in Catalonia

Last year, BASF announced the set up of a new international engineering hub in Tarragona, which will develop projects for all of Europe and reinforce its international role within the group.

In the area of digital transformation, Spain has also ratified its strategic position for BASF. The Tarragona production center has continued to advance in the installation of a private 5G network, becoming one of the first companies in Spain and the first in the chemical sector to receive its own private 5G spectrum to operate.

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