The U.S. plastics sector has rebounded to pre-recession levels, with the future outlook still positive thanks to robust growth in the resin sector and cheap shale gas feedstocks, claimed a key industry group president at the International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber (K 2013) news conference in Germany.

According to William Carteaux, president of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., the shale gas boom was a real game-changer for the U.S. plastics industry. In comparison to other global markets, U.S. plastics are among the few which are still growing in production capacity. Last year the United States produced plastics worth over $373 billion, which is very close to the previous high recorded in 2006, before the economic downturn, he noted.

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Statistics also show that the U.S. plastics industry is growing at a faster rate than the manufacturing industry as a whole. In 2012 it was the third largest manufacturing sector, following the oil and gas industry and the automotive industry. In terms of export value, last year the industry shipped goods worth $58.5 billion. Recent data suggested that over the first half of 2013 plastics exports grew 1.8 percent year-on-year, Carteaux also said.

The biggest market for U.S. plastics is Mexico, with last year's value standing at $13.6 billion, followed by Canada, at $12.5 billion, Plastics News reported.