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Ryan Baldwin
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The chemical manufacturing sector is one of America’s top exporting industries, with $184 billion in exports in 2015, accounting for 14 percent of all U.S. exports. It is also one of America's largest manufacturing industries, a nearly $800 billion enterprise providing 810,000 skilled, good-paying American jobs, with production in nearly every state. Additionally, the chemical industry is a key supplier for a broad range of downstream industries with large international presence, including automotive, agriculture, buildings and construction, pharmaceutical, transport, textiles, and many others.

» U.S. Chemicals Trade By the Numbers

The development of low-cost shale gas has been a game changer for U.S. chemical manufacturers. As of July 2016, announced capital investment in new or expanded production has reached more than 160 billion, 62 percent of which is foreign direct investment. A recent report prepared by Nexant Inc. projects that gross exports of specific key chemistries directly linked to shale gas, such as polymers, plastics resins, and specialty chemicals will more than double, from $60 billion in 2014 to $123 billion by 2030. Furthermore, U.S. trade surplus for the selected chemicals are projected to increase from $19.5 billion to $48.3 billion over the same period.

This projected growth will depend on many factors, including the U.S. pursuing the right trade policies and regulatory settings that further enhance the strengthened competitive position of industry. Opening market opportunities through trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), will be critical to realizing U.S. American manufacturers’ market presence in leading export destinations, and expanding growth.

ACC Policy Position

Future economic growth for the chemical sector depends on establishing trade policies that ensure a strengthened competitive position of the U.S. chemical industry in both the domestic and international markets.

  • Trade policy must create a level playing field with fair and reciprocal market access with key trading partners.
  • Trade negotiations should result in comprehensive and ambitious agreements that address the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers in all areas of trade, as well as addressing “21st Century” trade issues, such as regulatory coherence and trade facilitation.
  • ACC supports a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that reduces regulatory barriers to trade and empowers U.S. chemical manufacturers to boost exports and create good jobs.
  • ACC strongly supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), and calls for its swift ratification by Congress.
  • The Administration should pursue an aggressive trade policy, including expanding the TPP to include key APEC economies not already a part of the agreement.
  • The U.S. government should dedicate significant resources to ensuring trading partners are complying with their FTA and/or WTO commitments, with an emphasis on non-tariff barriers (e.g. local content rules) that impose unreasonable delays and costs on U.S. companies.
"We estimate that a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could generate an additional $1.2 billion in export growth for our sector, in part by giving U.S. plastics producers greater market access within the Pacific region." --Cal Dooley, President and CEO, ACC

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More than 800,000 Americans rely on jobs in the chemistry industry—earning 47 percent more than the average manufacturing wage.