The chemical industry comprises the companies that produce industrial chemicals. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials (oil, natural gas, air, water, metals, and minerals) into more than 70,000 different products. In the U.S. there are 170 major chemical companies. They operate internationally with more than 2,800 facilities outside the U.S. and 1,700 foreign subsidiaries or affiliates operating. The U.S. chemical output is $750 billion a year. The U.S. industry records large trade surpluses and employs more than a million people in the United States alone. The chemical industry is also the second largest consumer of energy in manufacturing and spends over $5 billion annually on pollution abatement. In Europe the chemical, plastics and rubber sectors are among the largest industrial sectors. Together they generate about 3.2 million jobs in more than 60,000 companies. The chemical sector alone represents 2/3 of the entire manufacturing trade surplus of the EU. The chemical sector accounted for 12% of the EU manufacturing industry’s added value. Europe remains the world’s biggest chemical trading region with 43 % of the world’s exports and 37%of the world’s imports, although the latest data shows that Asia is catching up with 34% of the exports and 37% of imports. Even so Europe still has a trading surplus with all regions of the world except Japan and China where there was a chemical trade balance. Europe’s trade surplus with the rest of the world today amounts to 41.7 billion Euros. The chemical industry has shown rapid growth for more than fifty years. The fastest-growing areas have involved the manufacture of synthetic organic polymers used as plastics, fibers and elastomers. Historically and presently the chemical industry has been concentrated in three areas of the world, Western Europe, North America and Japan. The European Community remains the largest producer area followed by the USA and Japan.