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February 17, 2014

U.S. trade surplus in chemicals expanded in 2013, ACC says

Scott Jenkins

U.S. exports of chemicals grew 0.4% in 2013, while chemical imports declined by 1.0%, expanding the trade surplus in the U.S. chemical industry to $3.4 billion, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC; Washington, D.C.; The value of the exports was $189.1 billion in 2013, while the value of the imports was $185.7 billion, the ACC said in its latest Weekly Chemistry and Economic Report.
However, a large deficit exists for the trade of pharmaceuticals. If pharmaceuticals are excluded, exports of chemicals were valued at $141.3 billion in 2013, compared to $100.1 billion for imports, the ACC report says. This gives rise to a $41.3 billion trade surplus for chemicals excluding pharmaceuticals. This value is slightly larger that the $41.2 billion surplus that was observed in 2012, ACC said.
“The chemical industry [in the U.S.] typically posts a surplus in all major segments except pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals. The largest contributor to net exports is basic chemicals, where exports of petrochemical derivatives and other industrial chemicals far outweigh imports,” the ACC report says.
The ACC report also included information from the U.S. Census Bureau, which indicated that wholesale trade in chemicals was flat in December of last year in the U.S., while inventories rose $4.6%.
In other recent data included in the ACC report, overall production in the business of chemistry fell 0.7% in January, and capacity utilization fell also. The decline partially reflected the inclement weather that affected much of the country last month, the report says.
Looking globally, the composite leading indicator from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; Paris; points to an improving economic outlook in most advanced countries.

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