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Favorable oil-to-gas price ratios driven by natural gas production at shales continue to drive a renewed U.S. competitiveness that is boosting exports and driving economic growth within the chemical industry, according to a year-end outlook and industry report recently published by the American Chemistry Council (ACC).Supported by activity within the domestic chemicals sector, the U.S. economy is likely to register continued, though moderated growth in 2014, the report states. The Chemical Activity Barometer ticked up 0.1 percent in November, when the economic indicator posted its eighth consecutive monthly gain, ACC officials said in a press release."After a decade of lost competitiveness, American chemistry is reemerging as a growth industry," said Kevin Swift, ACC's chief economist. "We're seeing growing end-use markets; strengthening employment; surging exports; and an influx of tremendous capital investment."Over the next five years, chemical production is expected to grow by almost 25 percent, pushing the value of industry shipments to $1 trillion by 2018. Shale gas and a surge in natural gas liquids supply has helped shift the United States from being a high-cost producer of key petrochemicals and resins to becoming one of the world's lowest-cost producers, ACC officials said."As a result, exports are surging," they said. "The industry has gone from a chemicals trade deficit to a surplus."
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