U.S. Chemical Exports: Top 7 Destinations

U.S. chemical exports in 2021 were directed primarily to Canada, Mexico, and China, according to data from the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).

To the entire world, these international sales were $289.096 million.

Shipments to Canada totaled $42.631 billion dollars, followed by shipments to Mexico ($38.775 billion) and China ($18.852 billion).

U.S. domestic exports of chemicals and allied products rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, increasing by $53.4 billion or 25.3 percent.

Growth was driven by both continued responses to the pandemic and increased demand from economies around the world that are recovering from pandemic shutdowns.

Chemicals and related products: U.S. domestic exports by selected trading partners and Reexports and by year. In millions of dollars and percentages.

According to the USITC, most economic sectors use chemicals, including health care, housing and construction, textiles and apparel, agriculture, batteries, consumer electronics, and vehicles, to name a few.

Medicinal chemicals-also referred to as pharmaceuticals-continued to account for the largest share of annual chemical exports (about 30.1% by value in 2021) and recorded the largest absolute increase in value terms ($21.4 billion).

Notably, this growth was largely attributed to products used in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also included products for other medical conditions.

Chemical exports

Other products with large absolute increases were certain organic chemicals and miscellaneous plastics products, both categories consisting of products used in a wide range of downstream sectors that benefited from the global economic recovery.

The category with the largest percentage increase was primary aromatics, which includes certain chemical components used in the manufacture of downstream chemicals (up 153.2 percent).

Pharmaceutical goods

Although exported pharmaceuticals were used for many medical conditions, the increase was largely in pharmaceuticals used in the prevention and treatment of or testing for Covid-19, particularly as new Covid-19 vaccines were developed, approved and deployed worldwide toward the end of 2020 and in 2021.

The largest increases were in exports of vaccines for human medicine, a basket category with many products that include Covid-19 vaccines; dosage form drugs, a basket category that includes products used to treat patients with Covid-19; and certified reference materials, another basket category that includes products used to standardize test results, including Covid-19 test results.

The top three U.S. markets for medicinal chemical exports (and those with the largest absolute changes in 2021) were Canada, Brazil, and Belgium; Canada has a large pharmaceutical industry; Belgium is a major manufacturing center for vaccines such as PfizerBioNTech‘s Covid-19 vaccine); and Brazil has a large pharmaceutical market.


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