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10-04-2016

Historically High Demand for Plastics in the USA

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association released its annual Global Business Trends report last week at GPS 2016: The Global Plastics Summit in Chicago, IL/USA. The report, which analyzes trade data from 2015, paints a complex, but ultimately positive and promising, portrait of the U.S. plastics industry.

The U.S. plastics industry’s trade balance fell to USD 7.1 billion in 2015, a decrease largely driven by a growing American economy that relied on domestic production more than it has in the past. Apparent consumption of plastics in the U.S. actually increased, to a historic high of USD 295.4 billion in 2015. Further, the U.S. plastics industry’s trade surplus stands in stark contrast to American manufacturing as a whole and many individual manufacturing segments, which have posted deficits.

Mexico and Canada remain the U.S. plastics industry’s largest export markets, with USD 15.8 billion to Mexico and $12.1 billion to Canada in 2015. The NAFTA trade area represents 47.2 % of the USD 59.1 billion of goods exported by the U.S. plastics industry in 2015. The U.S. enjoyed its largest trade surplus in 2015 with Mexico (USD 11.0 billion). The dollar value of the industry’s trade surplus in raw plastic materials (resins) declined in 2015, but on a real tonnage basis, the resin surplus increased 2.7 % over 2014.

“A declining trade balance in this case is the sign of a growing U.S. economy. A stronger dollar makes sales more costly for buyers abroad and a decline in natural gas and oil prices have put downward pressure on the price of plastic materials,” said SPI President and CEO William Carteaux. “While plastic materials, referred to in the plastics industry as ‘resins,’ overwhelmingly account for the U.S. plastics industry’s global trade surplus, it’s important to note that in the countries with which the U.S. has an FTA, the U.S. plastics industry enjoys a trade surplus in plastics products, as well as in resins,” said SPI’s Vice President of International Affairs and Trade Michael Taylor.

In addition to industry-wide and sector-specific trade data, this year’s Global Business Trends report also offers “Key Insights and Commentary,” as well as a set of recommendations to policymakers on how they can encourage continued strength in the U.S. plastics industry, specifically by supporting free trade agreements (FTAs) like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and continued investment in America’s shale gas resources, which help give American plastics producers a global competitive advantage.

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