Source: Messe Düsseldorf.
Despite a domestic political situation that has plastics leaders operating in an uncertain business climate, the U.S. plastics industry remains one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the United States and its trade surplus continues to grow, according to William R Carteaux, president and CEO of the U.S. plastics industry trade association, SPI.
"I'm from Washington but I can help you," Bill opened. This amusing reference to the issues with the public budget in the U.S. government captured our attention and our sense of humours.
Speaking at a press conference sponsored by Messe Düsseldorf on behalf of US companies exhibiting at K 2013, Carteaux cited 2012 statistics newly released by SPI as evidence that the U.S. plastics industry not only outpaces overall U.S. manufacturing, but also remains an especially strong force in global markets.
“While continuing U.S. political gridlock has plastics company leaders trying to make decisions in an uncertain business environment, our nation’s plastics industry has remained highly competitive by finding innovative solutions and efficiencies, as well as by expanding international reach to new markets,” said Carteaux. “In 2012, the value of goods shipped by our industry was more than $373 billion and plastics continue to better the rest of U.S. manufacturing in key growth rate areas.”
Export growth continues to be a significant boost for the U.S. plastics industry. In 2012, U.S. plastics exported goods valued at $58.5 billion. “We anticipate this positive trend to continue over the next few years as recent Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, Panama and Russia become more fully exploited by U.S. companies,” said Carteaux. “In fact, our data for the first half of 2013 indicate that U.S. plastics industry exported goods were up 1.8 percent from the same period in 2012. CEOs realize that 96 percent of the world’s customers are outside of the United States and SPI has responded this year by leading trade missions to Chile and Panama. We have future trade missions planned to introduce companies to markets in India, Vietnam, South Korea and Turkey.”
The 2012 data released by SPI also indicated the following:
- 3rd Largest U.S. Manufacturing Industry: In addition to shipping more than $373-billion worth of goods, in 2012 the U.S. plastics industry employed 892 thousand workers at 15,949 facilities throughout every state and invested $9.6 billion in new capital equipment.
- Fastest Growing U.S. Manufacturing Sector: Between 1980 and 2012, U.S. plastics grew annually at rates of 0.1% in employment (versus -1.4% for all manufacturing), 2.3% in real shipments (versus 0.3%), 2.2% in real value added (versus 0.7%) and 2.2% in productivity (versus 1.7%).
- Mexico is the U.S. Plastics Industry’s Largest Export Market: In 2012, the industry exported $13.6 billion to Mexico and $12.5 billion to Canada. The U.S. plastics industry had a $7.8 billion trade deficit with China in 2012.
- Positive Trade Balance of $13.1 Billion: In 2012, the U.S. plastics industry exported goods valued at $58.5 billion (down 0.1% from 2011).
Bill also presented other useful data indicating the optimism for the US manufacturing sector as a whole and finished off with an evaluation of the impact of the US shale gas boom currently in play.
The indicators were: US activity expanding faster than that of the globe, as measured by Global Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Indices; and a clear trend of a rapid rise in US manufacturing output per hour worked (up by around an average of 75% in 2000-10).
The shale gas explanation, headlined "All Hail Shale", was centred around the theme that the US shale gas boom is good for the US polymer sector. Plentiful supplies of feedstock gas will open and and lower the cost of petrochemical (and monomer) supplies to polymer makers. Bill made the point that the investment required to develop and commercialise the reserves is secure from a good and wide range of quality reliable investors, ranging from the Exxons of this world to more diverse investors. The message was that US shale gas is secure and good for the industry with talk of the US becoming a net exporter of petrochemicals.
Bill also gave a short snapshot into the exhibitor base at K, including 115 US companies, 38 taking part in SPI's booth. And looking forward to NPE in 2014, Bill highlighted the fact that there will be a dedicated 3D printing pavillion, emphasising that 3d printing is of massive importance to the US plastics industry, especially as a major supplier to the country's second largest manufacturing sector, automotive. This point was echoed by the featured speaker during the conference, director of packaging at global cosmetics giant Estée Lauder.