Agrochemicals giant Syngenta says it is eliminating or reshuffling 1,800 jobs globally as part of a $1 billion cost-cutting program to boost earnings.

The company has a growing presence in Research Triangle Park and elsewhere in North Carolina.

Syngenta is one of several agricultural companies with an “agobio” focus that have located and continue to expand operations in RTP, making it a global hub for crop science. Five of the largest six agobio companies have a substantial presence in North Carolina. In addition to Syngenta they are: Bayer CropScience, BASF, Monsanto and Novozymes.

Just last week, news reports noted that Syngenta faces dozens of lawsuits over genetically modified seed.

Syngenta did not spell out the cost-cutting program’s effects by location.

The firm opened a new $72 million seed laboratory in RTP in May of 2013 and two months later announced plans for a further $94 million expansion as well as another 150 jobs.

Based on jobs listing at its corporate web site, Syngenta currently has some 20 openings for various openings in the state. Most of those are spread across the Triangle and Greensboro.

The Basel, Switzerland-based manufacturer, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of seeds and crop chemicals and has more than 28,000 employees in some 90 countries, says most of the company-wide job reductions and relocations will occur in 2015.

In a statement Monday, the company said the reductions are part of $1 billion in targeted savings by 2018, including $265 million next year.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Mack said the company is making significant progress in cutting costs.

“We are today reporting significant progress in the implementation of the first phase of our Accelerating Operational Leverage program,” Mack said.

“In the short term, this will underpin the realization of initial cost savings in 2015 in the context of a challenging market environment. Longer term, the comprehensive actions announced today will enhance both our commercial effectiveness and the power of our innovation. By optimizing our cost structure within the framework of the integrated strategy, we will attain industry-leading efficiency. This will allow us to bring distinctive offers to growers more quickly and ensure a sustained improvement in profitability.”

The reorganization and job cuts include what the company called “three main pillars” of focus:

  • Commercial operations
  • Research and Development
  • Global Operations

Substantial crop research is done into seeds in N.C.

“In Global Operations, fixed cost overheads will be reduced by moving certain activities to lower cost locations. In addition, further significant procurement and production savings are being targeted and a more efficient global logistics model is being put in place, including significant outsourcing,” the company said.

“In Seeds, efficiency programs in field production and processing are also underway. Expected savings from these actions are $100 million in 2015.”

In October, Syngenta warned that profits were suffering this year

“For the first nine months of this year profitability has been affected by adverse currency movements and sales mix. As a result we expect the full-year EBITDA margin will be below last year’s level,”  Mack said in a statement as reported by Reuters.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)