"We are going to have to get rid of the least efficient production units in Europe, the United States and Asia as well," Jürgen Hambrecht told the German weekly Die Zeit in comments that were released in advance.
"How many jobs and where it will hit I cannot say, the crisis is not over," he added.
The BASF boss said his group could not transfer "elsewhere in the world" all those whose posts were slated to be eliminated.
All sites, including the BASF headquarters in the western city of Ludwigshafen, were potential targets of the cost-saving measures.
"Our staff in China or elsewhere is as important as those in Germany," Hambrecht said.
BASF employs 95,000 workers around the world, and had been hurt since late last year by a brutal deterioration of the global economy, particularly in the electronics and automobile industries.
In November, the group announced a massive cut in production that would affect 20,000 workers worldwide. Last month, it enacted partial layoff measures that affected more than 1,500 people. But such actions are only partially effective, the BASF boss said, admitting that "at present, (the situation) is really bad."