UpdateChina records all-time high imports of some petchems in Sept

28 October 2009 09:01  [Source: ICIS news]

Adds details throughout

By John Richardson

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--China imported a record volume of some major petrochemicals in September over August with mixed xylenes (MX), toluene and methyl methacrylate (MMA) registering the biggest percentage rises, according to data released on Wednesday.

The country’s monoethylene glycol (MEG), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyacetal, polycarbonate (PC) and styrene imports hit all-time highs in September, the US-based International Trader Publications Inc (ITP) said on earlier today.

MEG imports were 551,113 tonnes in September and styrene at 363,346 tonnes,  China Customs said. The country had imported 502,994 tonnes of MEG and 287,387 tonnes of styrene in August.

MX imports surged 65217% to 3,919 tonnes with toluene rising 173% to 73,548 tonnes, said China Customs.

The next biggest percentage jump was in MMA as shipments increased by 73% to 16,309 tonnes.

There were increases for most other products – notably naphtha where imports rose 43% to 359,554 tonnes.

Benzene was one important exception. September imports fell by 66% to 5,866 tonne with the January-September total down by 76%, added China Customs.

Where slight declines were recorded for some of the major polymers, year-to-date increases remained big.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) imports fell by 6% in September to 368,122 tonnes for example, but were still 137% up for January-September, according to the official numbers.

The year-to-date imports of all commodity polymers tracked by ITP rose by 31-133%. These include all the major homo and co-polymer grades of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and EVA.

“Some of the surges in September, following somewhat slower trade in July and August, probably anticipated the week-long national holiday early in October,” said Jean Sudol, president of ITP.

“We expect to see lower volumes show up in China's October statistics but what is likely for November is less predictable and hinges on how much is real demand growth, both domestically and as translated into growing exports, versus stockpiling along the product chain. This depends partly on government policy.

“What is apparent is that government policies to date in China have resulted in unprecedented import volumes of many products for several months, some since the beginning of the year, in spite of months of rising prices. The duration of this trend is striking.”

During the last global economic recession, there was also a surge in imports into China at the beginning of 2002, as prices bottomed, she added.

But this lasted only 2-3 months, as prices moved up, and did not involve the breadth of products being recorded now.

With additional reporting by Dolly Wu and Judith Wang in Shanghai

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Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections


By: John Richardson
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