American Chemistry Remains in Demand

ACC Publishes 2020 Guide to the Business of Chemistry

06.07.2020 - As the American Chemistry Council (ACC) publishes its 2020 Guide to the Business of Chemistry, the world is coping with a global pandemic and the worst economic downturn in nearly a century.

The coronavirus has disrupted supply chains and affected the lives and livelihoods of billions of consumers while claiming a large and growing human toll. In this unprecedented challenge, says ACC, the products of chemistry have, once again, proved essential. ACC member companies are creating ingredients for necessary products such as hand sanitizers, disinfectants, face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and more.

A world leader with $565 billion in shipments, the United States is the second-largest chemical producing nation, after China. American chemistry provides more than half a million high-paying jobs, with average annual pay of more than $83,000 per year. The chemistry industry supports a vast supply chain and creates economic activity in the communities where facilities are located. The report outlines that for every chemical manufacturing job, more than seven additional jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.

The competitive advantage enabled by domestic shale gas development has motivated substantial growth in US chemical manufacturing capacity over the past decade, with more than $200 billion in investment completed, in progress, or under consideration. While the business disruption caused by Covid-19 is likely to result in a short-term decline in capital expenditures, robust supplies of natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) could enable American chemistry to retain its advantage and remain a global hub for production in the years ahead, ACC says.

Despite ongoing trade tensions and the closure of national borders to help contain Covid-19, American chemistry remains in demand around the world. In 2019, the US chemical industry was one of the world’s largest exporters, at $136 billion. The industry has a large and growing trade surplus, reaching more than $35 billion in 2019. Trade is essential to the success of the US chemical industry, and it benefits the broader economy as well. Chemicals account for nearly 10% of all US goods exports. Access to global markets is critical for continued economic growth and job creation.

The contributions of American chemistry extend to the benefits provided by the sectors products. In addition to supporting global efforts to combat Covid-19, the products of chemistry enable higher living standards and are crucial to meeting the needs of a growing global population. Innovation into new materials, applications and processes is key to advances in human development. With more than $10.1 billion in R&D investment in 2019, the US chemical industry is helping to expand technological frontiers. Solutions from the chemistry industry will be needed to ensure a safe and plentiful food supply, clean air and water, safe living conditions, efficient and affordable energy sources, and life-saving medical treatments for people around the globe.

In addition to creating essential materials for modern living, American chemistry is finding solutions to enhance sustainability. In January 2019, nearly 50 companies across the plastics value chain launched the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The Alliance provides a platform and seed money to support scale-up of new technologies, ideas, innovations, and business models to help prevent plastic waste from entering the environment and to recover and create value from these materials.