Chemicals contribute to a significant portion of all American exports. According to the American Chemistry Council, the chemicals industry accounts for 12 percent of exports at a value of about $189 billion.
It's also currently a hot topic in the presidential race. According to Republican candidate, Donald Trump, many of the major trade agreements have hurt the U.S. economy by encouraging companies to ship jobs overseas. As one of his campaign promises, Trump has vowed to renegotiate current trade deals or slap two of America’s biggest trading partners — China and Mexico — with tariffs of 35 or 45 percent.
Many economists have expressed concerns that such a move would ignite a trade war if countries choose to retaliate with tariffs of their own.
Just how much money is at stake?
As the graph shows, Mexico and China were two of the chemicals industry’s biggest trading partners in 2015. Any new trade agreement could have major implications for the industry at home.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has been a long-time supporter of most major trade deals, but has begun to take a more cautious approach in the last few months.
Meanwhile, the recent Brexit vote has also cast an air of uncertainty over U.S. trade relations with the UK. Once the UK officially leaves the European Union, a new trade agreement will have to be hammered out, which could also jeopardize trade across the Atlantic.
The graph shows the top countries to receive U.S. chemicals exports in 2015. The exports included pharmaceuticals, basis and specialty chemicals, agriculture chemicals and consumer products.