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Ryan Baldwin
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Chemistry is vital to the creation of ground-breaking products that help make our lives and our planet healthier, safer, and more sustainable. Trade acts as a conduit that enables the innovative products of chemistry to reach the countries and businesses that need them the most.

The United States today is a net exporter of chemicals, thanks to the $203 billion in shale-gas related chemical investments that have been announced in the United States over the past decade.

U.S. trade policy sets the tone for trade with the rest of the world and plays a decisive role in enabling the American chemicals industry to catalyze change and growth across our economy, the environment, and society.

Two-Way Chemicals Trade:
A Shared Path to Growth and Innovation

For the U.S. chemicals industry to succeed in the global marketplace, chemicals trade must be allowed to flow freely in and out of the United States.

Market-opening trade agreements level the playing field, create a shared path to growth and innovation, and fortify our country’s relationships with key trading partners. Trade agreements also give U.S. chemicals manufacturers continued access to critical export markets and allow American firms to import materials and chemicals that are essential to U.S. manufacturing, but which may not be produced or available in the United States.

Exports Icon The U.S. chemicals industry trades from a position of strength as a net exporter of chemicals. In 2019, chemicals accounted for $136 billion, or 10 percent, of all U.S. goods exports, resulting in a trade surplus of $35 billion. U.S. chemicals exports today support 163,000 American jobs -- or 30 percent of the domestic chemicals industry workforce. Canada, Mexico, and China are the top three largest export markets for U.S.-made chemicals today. Future growth for our industry depends on a strong trading relationship with all three countries and a trade policy that creates certainty and predictability for investors.

Imports Icon Our industry also imports some products, which help strengthen U.S. chemical manufacturing. The imports can range from feedstocks and basic chemicals that are not available or produced in the United States, to lower-cost materials like steel, which investors in the U.S. shale gas revolution rely on to build multibillion-dollar ethylene cracker complexes and other chemicals facilities in the United States. U.S. chemicals imports from other countries also help maintain and strengthen trading relationships with countries that are among the biggest importers (customers) of American chemistry.

Globally Integrated Supply Chains:
Trade Supports Low-Cost Manufacturing Across Borders

Over the past two decades, globalization has transformed how chemicals manufacturers and their customers do business. Goods can now cross borders multiple times, similar to how a product can move back and forth across a single manufacturing facility. The resulting globally integrated supply chain is more optimized, connected and collaborative than a single, localized system. This helps businesses manufacture and distribute products at lower cost to their customers.

With a presence on six continents and more than $3.9 billion in global chemicals trade, the chemicals industry is well positioned to strengthen and capitalize on global supply chains in order to supply its customers with innovative products at less cost.

Supply Chain Integration Icon Supply chain integration is essential to innovation because it enables manufacturers – particularly large multinationals – to optimize their manufacturing processes. Although billions of dollars of chemicals may be exchanged across borders, a significant portion of the chemicals trade is between companies and their subsidiaries. Free trade supports their growth, whereas tariffs inhibit it. According to ACC estimates, 39 percent of all U.S. chemicals exports and more than 50 percent of U.S. chemicals imports are between companies and their subsidiaries.

Increased Demand for U.S. Chemicals Icon By reducing manufacturing costs, integrated supply chains help increase demand for lower-cost chemicals and plastics and the products that rely on chemistry. There are indirect benefits as well. Due to chemistry’s early position in the supply chain, trading environments that help our downstream customer industries grow, like the agriculture and automotive sectors, can also support chemical industry growth by increasing demand for U.S.-made chemicals. Conversely, tariff increases hurt the chemical industry by closing markets both to chemical exports and exports of finished products using chemicals in their production, including agricultural goods and automobiles, and by raising costs of production due to higher prices for imports.

Exports by Country

The chemical industry continues to be one of the top exporting sectors in the United States.

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