FocusChina PE import demand to improve by late July

30 June 2010 08:47  [Source: ICIS news]

By Chow Bee Lin

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--China’s polyethylene (PE) import demand is expected to improve at the end of July, when plastics processors restock in preparation for the peak manufacturing season that begins in August, industry sources said on Wednesday.

"China’s plastics processors typically ramp up production in the August-October period to meet export orders for the Christmas and New Year holidays in the US and Europe,” a source at Formosa Plastics Corp said.

The agricultural season which typically stretches from September to December would also increase the demand for film grade linear low density PE (LLDPE), which would in turn boost the sentiment in the general PE market, a trader in east China said.

Supply of imported film grade high density PE (HDPE) might tighten between July and August due to shutdowns at Marun Petrochemical and Mehr Petrochemical in Iran and reduced shipments from regular suppliers in Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand, said a trader in south China.

HDPE shipments from Asian countries had declined since early June due to thin margins, the trader added.

Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp, a key film grade HDPE exporter to China, had been producing more pipe and yarn grades HDPE due to weak film grade demand, a company source said.

Many South Korean producers had also diversified to other HDPE grades and markets due to weak demand from the China market.

Thai producers had diverted much of their film grade HDPE supply to southeast Asian markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines where their product is exempted from import duty, a Thai producer said.

China’s PE import prices were mostly on a downtrend this year (see graph) due to high inventories, domestic capacity additions, increased import and weak demand for Chinese plastic finished product exports.

The inventory pressure had shown no signs of easing yet although it was difficult to pin down the exact PE stock levels in the country, said a source at China’s largest PE producer Sinopec.

Sinopec was currently estimated to have around 700,000-800,000 tonnes of PE inventory, while its typical stock level was supposed to be around 500,000 tonnes, the source added.

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

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By: Chow Bee Lin
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