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NEWS RELEASE 98-021; APRIL 7, 1998
April 7, 1998
News Release 98-021
U.S. ADHESIVES INDUSTRY CONTINUES ITS GROWTH, TECHNICAL ADVANCES,
AND WORLD LEADERSHIP
The U.S. adhesives industry continues to surpass those in the other major regions of the
world as the value of its production in 1996 exceeded $4.7 billion, reports the U.S.
International Trade Commission (ITC) in its publication Industry and Trade Summary:
Adhesives, Glues, and Gelatin. U.S. exports of adhesives exceeded imports by a ratio of
almost 3 to 1. For the much smaller U.S. gelatin industry, paired with adhesives in the
nation's import and export classification system, U.S. imports exceed exports by the same
ratio of almost 3 to 1.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently released the
report as part of an ongoing series of reports on the thousands of products imported into and
exported from the United States. Following are other highlights of the report.
- The products of the U.S. adhesives industry continue to replace other types of
fasteners and, benefiting from the improved adhesiveness of continually improving
synthetic resins, appear to be more than adequately competitive in worldwide terms.
Exports are almost triple imports (the latter, sourced largely from Canada, Germany,
and Japan, were valued at $141 million in 1996), though neither is large compared
with national consumption. Further, exports of adhesives increased by 77 percent
during 1992-96; imports increased by 28 percent. European companies are this
country's most serious competitors in adhesives; European firms have competed in
recent years mostly by buying prominent U.S. adhesives companies.
- For gelatin, a much smaller industry segment, imports account for almost half of U.S.
consumption. Imports of gelatin, $130 million in 1996, up 38 percent from 1992,
came mostly from France (by far the major supplier), Germany, Japan, Brazil, and
the United Kingdom. Foreign technology is very competitive; U.S. raw materials
(pork skins) are limited in amount; and U.S. exports of gelatin are relatively
- Though the adhesives industry is much smaller than several other segments of the
overall chemical industry, adhesives are widely used in many U.S. industries such as
automobiles, aerospace, packaging, construction, and hundreds of other types of
products. Replacing the many other types of fasteners in these markets has
significantly reduced end-products' cost of production, and completely new uses
continue to emerge. Gelatin is consumed in food products, photographic film,
capsules for pharmaceuticals, and other applications.
- From the beginning of recorded history until well into the twentieth century,
adhesives were derived mainly from natural sources like gelatin and starch. But after
World War I, synthetic resins and rubbers began taking over. By the 1990s, these
polymers had grown to account for more than 90 percent of the value of all
adhesives. Examples of the leading types of synthetic resin adhesives include
polyvinyl acetate, epoxy, phenolic, urea-formaldehyde, cyanoacrylate, and nearly 100
The foregoing information is from the ITC report Industry and Trade Summary, Adhesives,
Glues, and Gelatin (USITC Publication 3093, March 1998).
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and
foreign producers, and customs treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the
basic factors affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as
well as factors bearing on the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign
This report is now available for downloading from the ITC's Internet server (www.usitc.gov).
A printed copy may be requested by calling 202-205-1809 or by writing the Office of the
Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20436.
Requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104.
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