Canadian Plastics

U.S. plastics industry reports another year of trade surplus

Canadian Plastics   

Economy Market Forecast

Mexico and Canada remain the U.S. plastics industry’s largest export markets, the new report from the Plastics Industry Association says.

Mexico and Canada remain the U.S. plastics industry’s largest export markets, a new report says, with the industry exporting US$15.3 billion to Mexico and US$12.4 billion to Canada, and maintaining its largest trade surplus – US$9.8 billion – with Mexico.

The 2020 Global Trends report from the Washington, D.C.-based Plastics Industry Association presents what the group calls “a complex but promising portrait of the U.S. plastics industry in the international market.”

Although the report found that the U.S. plastics industry’s trade surplus decreased to US$0.4 billion in 2019 from US$0.5 billion in 2018, global plastics demand remains solid. The U.S. plastics industry had a US$13.7 billion deficit with China, which is the third largest export market of the U.S. plastics industry. However, the U.S. had a US$2.5 billion trade surplus with China with resin. China is the world’s largest resin buyer and a large importer of U.S.-produced resins.

Canada and Mexico will continue to be the two largest export markets, the report said, and are also the top sources of U.S. plastics imports. “The manufacturing sector’s supply chain in these countries was strengthened with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement,” the report said. “The updated free trade pact, United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), should further enhance trade among the three countries.”


U.S. apparent consumption of plastic products grew 1.0% to US$232.4 billion in 2019, the report said, but due to U.S. producer prices falling 1.5% in 2019, apparent consumption in plastic products grew 2.5%. In 2019, total U.S. plastics industry exports fell 2.9%, and imports were 2.8% lower than in 2018. “Against the backdrop of moderating global economic growth in 2019 and uncertainties related to tariffs and trade, the U.S. plastics industry generated a trade surplus. Although U.S. resin producers continued to enjoy a cost advantage over most foreign producers, U.S. resin exports decreased 2.0% in dollar terms from 2018 to 2019,” said Perc Pineda, chief economist with the Plastics Industry Association. “Lower trade figures are expected this year due mainly to the global economic slowdown, but the trade outlook for 2021 is positive.”

The 2020 Global Trends report is available to download for free for Plastics Industry Association members and is available for purchase to non-members here.


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