BERLIN (AP) — Chemicals maker BASF SE on Tuesday announced plans to invest a total of euro2 billion ($2.9 billion) in Asia through 2013 as it targets faster demand growth in the region.

The company said its regional strategy for the next decade entails increasing employee numbers in the region by at least 5,000 from the current level of some 15,000.

Ludwigshafen, Germany-based BASF targeted annual growth 2 percentage points higher than that of the Asia-Pacific region's chemicals market — a plan that, if fulfilled, would double regional sales by 2020.

The company said it also aims for efficiency savings of at least euro100 million a year by 2012.

The planned investments include BASF's 50-percent share in the $1.4 billion expansion of a chemical production joint venture in Nanjing, China, the company said. Chinese authorities approved that project in July.

BASF said it also plans a plant in Chongqing, China that would make MDI, a precursor for polyurethanes. It gave no details of the cost.

"The Asian growth markets will continue to provide attractive opportunities, and our strategy ... will help us to realize them," BASF board member Martin Brudermueller said in a statement.

"The current economic situation does not change our positive expectations of the long-term potential of these dynamic markets."

BASF shares were down nearly 1.1 percent at euro35.97 Tuesday on a Frankfurt market that was down overall.