The U.S. chemical industry is going strong, according to American Chemistry Council (ACC) figures released in late 2017. U.S. chemical production volume for 2017, excluding pharmaceuticals, would be 0.8 percent higher than in 2016, finds the ACC’s annual industry study. ACC predicts further growth of 3.7 percent in 2018, 3.9 percent in 2019, and 3 percent in 2020. Continued access to inexpensive shale gas, used for feedstock in the manufacturing process and for energy, gives U.S. chemical manufacturers an advantage over competitors in other locations, says the ACC. Companies have announced nearly 320 new chemical production projects in the United States, with a total value of more than $185 billion, the organization says. Foreign investment accounts for 62 percent of that value.The ACC also notes an increase in exports from the United States, creating a $32-billion trade surplus for chemicals, excluding pharmaceuticals, in 2017. Chemical exports totaled $127 billion, and imports rose by 2.8 percent over 2017, reaching $96 billion.