The chemical Trade

“Chemical trade” includes several activities:

  • commercial (purchase, sale, brokerage)
  • logistic (storage, transport)
  • as well as the formulation, conditioning and packing of the products,

It contribute to the exchange of chemicals and the associated services, between companies in the various economic sectors concerned.

Application areas

Chemical products irrigate almost every sector of the economy :

  • the chemical industries itself, but also the metallurgical, pharmaceutical, veterinary, cosmetic, agro-food, repro-photographic industries, as well as plastic materials and rubber …
  • but also agriculture, mechanics, automobile and aeronautical construction, building, textiles, electronics firms, as well as many small and medium sized industries and large companies in many other production, trading and services sectors.


Chemicals products can be differentiated into several criteria, in particular by :

  • on the one hand, their composition (substances or mixtures)
  • on the other, depending on their acknowledged or presumed danger with respect to man or the environment,
  • and finally, according to three categories, with more or less accurate contours, depending on various criteria that are more specific economic.

1/ Substances and mixtures

Substances : this term refers to chemical elements and their compounds in their natural state or as obtained by all the different production processes

The European inventory (EINECS) lists more than 100.000 substances. Substance information is available from CAS or EINECS numbers of from its name though several languages.

– Mixtures : these are mixtures or solutions consisting of two or more substances. Accordingly, preparations are potentially far more numerous.

2/ Dangerous Materials

Despite their specific properties useful for many applications, some substances can be harmful to man or the environment and are put into three major danger categories :

  • physical-chemical : explosive, gaz, inflammable, oxidiser, corrosive
  • liable to have any effect on health to various extends : hazardous for health, toxic, fatal
  • hazardous regarding the environment : hazardous for environment, hazardous to the ozone layer


toxicité aiguenocif ou irritantinflammablegaz sous pressionexplosif

dangereux pour l'environnementdangereux pour la santécorrosifcomburant

3/ Economic Differentiation

Lastly, the chemicals put on the market are often differentiated according to a number of “economic” criteria related to the unit price, production volume, various fields of application, but also the nature of their production which may be “standardized” or “tailor-made”, leading to the three following major categories:

  • “commodities” these are basic raw materials with a fixed composition, sold in large volumes at moderate prices and with individual margins, involving steep investments and high logistical costs for their distribution;
  • specialties” these products are formulated to provide specific performance for their professional end users. Accordingly, the prices are higher, corresponding to a smaller marketing volume than the commodities;
  • “fine chemical products” include fixed composition products, in particular advanced intermediates obtained by synthesis, active principles and additives, representing a high value added factor in terms of research and development. This makes them more costly and they are marketed in small amounts, among targeted professional clientele (for instance, pharmaceutical laboratories, agro-food producers, etc).

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