In a country that tallied a $43.5 billion trade deficit October, which was actually smaller than September's gap of $44.2 billion, the plastics industry can make the rare claim of exporting more goods and services than it imports. As of October, the U.S. plastics industry's trade surplus had reached $14 billion, and was closing in on 2010's total surplus of $16.2 billion.
Bill Carteaux, Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) president and CEO, and Michael Taylor, senior director of international trade, presented those findings and more during a Dec. 15 webinar, noting that productivity gains, a weaker dollar, and suddenly cheap and abundant natural gas had propelled overseas business, with resin exports leading the way.
Carteaux noted that when his tenure at SPI began in 2005, the U.S. Congress was in the midst of hammering out that year's energy bill under the shadow of natural gas priced as high as $14/mm BTUs. On Dec. 16, the Henry Hub spot price for natural gas stood at $3.05/mm BTU, by contrast, with the U.S. currently boasting the lowest production costs for resins outside the Middle East....