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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. The chemical industry is a key supplier for a broad range of downstream industries with significant economic impact, including automotive, agriculture, buildings and construction, pharmaceutical, transport, textiles, and many others.

» U.S. Chemicals Trade By the Numbers

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and its members are united in support of a comprehensive policy agenda that energizes economic growth and job creation in the U.S., and are ready to help drive it. The competitive advantage of American chemical manufacturing, largely due to shale gas, provides a unique opportunity to drive a broader expansion of manufacturing in the U.S. Maximizing this opportunity will require the development and implementation of a world leading, pro-competitive policy and regulatory environment: on energy, infrastructure, tax and trade.

With the development of shale gas and the surge in natural gas liquids supply, the U.S. has moved from being a high-cost producer of key petrochemicals and resins to among the lowest-cost producers globally. This shift in competitiveness is driving significant flows of new capital investment toward the U.S., with 274 natural-gas related projects already announced, valued at more than $170 billion (as of December, 2016). More than $76 billion in new projects have been completed or are currently under construction.

ACC anticipates that this investment will significantly expand production as new capacity comes online. This will enable the business of chemistry to continue adding high-paying jobs at least through the end of the decade. U.S. chemical exports are expected to grow as external demand becomes more robust.

Gross exports of specific key chemistries directly linked to shale gas, such as polymers, plastic resins and specialty chemicals are projected to more than double by 2030. By the end of this decade, the chemical sector as a whole will post record trade surpluses. This increases the importance of effective engagement with new and old trading partners to ensure a level playing field for U.S. chemical manufacturers and for U.S. manufacturing as a whole.

ACC Policy Positions 

  • The U.S. chemical industry’s success largely hinges on being able to engage with global markets. It is imperative that the U.S. government take a leadership role in designing comprehensive and ambitious agreements that eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers in all areas of trade, as well as address “21st-century” trade issues such as regulatory cooperation and trade facilitation. Addressing such provisions is essential to eliminating barriers that drag on economic growth and job creation.
  • Given the global nature of the chemical supply chain, the implementation of industrial policies that lead to further trade liberalization will help companies reach economy of scale in sourcing and shipping of materials and products. More than 70 percent of the materials we import, and almost half of U.S. chemical exports, are intra-company, meaning one company exchanges materials with its overseas affiliate. Eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers on intra-company trade, as well as overall trade, would help U.S. chemical manufacturers save millions of dollars that can be put toward new U.S. investment and new jobs.
  • Future economic growth for the chemical sector depends on establishing a pro-growth, pro-competitiveness agenda that is comprehensive in topic range and addresses barriers in both the domestic and international markets. Addressing regulatory, energy, infrastructure, tax and trade barriers are key elements in enhancing the U.S. chemical sector’s competitive position.
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