October 20, 2022
plastics engineers examining machine

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY—The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) released its annual Global Trends report today during an executive briefing at the K Show in Düsseldorf, Germany—the world’s largest plastics trade show.

“Inflation was a big factor in the increases in the dollar value of exports and imports of plastics trade,” said Perc Pineda, Ph.D. Chief Economist at PLASTICS. “While this year’s merchandise trade outlook could miss the forecast, as the global economic growth slowed, the world is still the market for the plastics industry.”

Among the highlights found in the Global Trends report:

  • The U.S. plastics industry’s overall trade deficit grew to $10.1 billion in 2021 from $5.4 billion just a year earlier. For several years prior, the plastics industry enjoyed a trade surplus. Still, the U.S. enjoyed a $19.6 billion surplus in resin.
  • The U.S. plastics industry had an $18.2 billion trade deficit with China, its third-largest export market. This was, however, offset in part by an $2.6 billion resin trade surplus with China, the world’s largest resin buyer and a large importer of U.S.- produced resins.

Interested parties throughout the globe will find the Global Trends report and its accompanying dataset provide a comprehensive account of U.S. plastics exports and imports worldwide in each of the four categories of the plastics industry – resin, products, machinery and molds. The report is also the only plastics trade report that includes contained trade analysis outlining the movement of resins and plastics that are embedded in goods that the U.S. both exports and imports.

  • According to Global Trends, Mexico and Canada remained the U.S. plastics industry’s largest export markets. In 2021, the industry exported $18.0 billion to Mexico and $15.0 billion to Canada, maintaining its largest trade surplus—$10.8 billion—with Mexico.
  • In the first half of 2022, U.S. plastics industry exports increased 16.9% and imports rose 17.0% compared to the first half of 2021.The trade balance however, increased by 17.4%.

“Risks on plastics trade remain in the forecast for 2023, but for the U.S. plastics industry, international trade remains a component of its overall growth strategy in 2022 and beyond,” said Pineda. “The U.S. ranks second in PLASTICS Global Plastics Ranking™.”

“The fact that our Global Trends report anticipates positive results for our industry, despite a widened trade deficit, speaks to the importance of plastics to the world we live in,” said Matt Seaholm, President and CEO of PLASTICS. “Our members stand ready to provide the materials that improve lives throughout the world and that are essential to creating the circular economy we all strive to achieve.”

An executive summary of PLASTICS’ Global Trends report is available online at:

Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members and the industry more globally competitive while advancing recycling and sustainability. To learn more about PLASTICS educational initiatives, the $468 billion dollar plastics industry, sustainability insights and events, networking opportunities and policy advocacy, and the largest plastics trade show in the Americas, NPE: The Plastics Show, visit or go to This Is PLASTICS.