China March polymer imports fall, exports rise on high prices

26 April 2011 06:42  [Source: ICIS news]

Chairs made of plasticsBy Judith Wang and Dolly Wu

SHANGHAI (ICIS)--China’s annual imports of plastics fell in March because of higher prices, which in turn, provided strong opportunities for exports, industry sources said on Tuesday.

The country imports hundreds of thousand tonnes of polymers each month, but volumes of plastics taken in notably declined in March, while exports showed sharp year-on-year increases, according to data from China Customs. Export volumes, however, are significantly lower than imports.

China, the world’s second biggest economy, is a key import market for petrochemicals in Asia.

It took in 3% less high density polyethylene (HDPE) in March at 357,077 tonnes, while its exports of the same product more than tripled to 21,663 tonnes, according to the data.

For linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), China’s imports fell 14% year on year to 234,881 tonnes, but its exports of the polymer nearly quadrupled to 4,677 tonnes.

Its low density PE (LDPE) imports slumped 45% year on year to 124,136 tonnes in March, while it shipped out 151% more LDPE at 7,000 tonnes.

PP import volume also slipped, down 9% at 339,240 tonnes in March, with a corresponding sharp increase in exports at 15,478 tonnes, nearly double the March 2010 levels, according to China Customs.

China’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) also fell 12% last month to 130,548 tonnes, while exports surged by half to 35,978 tonnes.

“Domestic producers started to export PVC from March for better gains as export prices are higher than domestic prices,” traders said.

ICIS-Chemease assessed the export prices of carbide-based PVC at $1,100-1,110/tonne (€759-766/tonne) FOB (free on board) CMP (China Main Port) and of ethylene-based PVC at $1,160-1,180/tonne FOB CMP on 15 April.

Meanwhile, in the polyester chain, China also imported less monoethylene glycol (MEG) at 644,028 tonnes and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) at 440,768 tonnes in March, down 7% and 8% year on year, respectively, according to the data.

For most other petrochemical products, however, China recorded moderate to strong year-on-year increases.

The country imported 533,203 tonnes of methanol last month, representing a 20% increase compared to the same period in 2010, while its paraxylene (PX) imports jumped 29% to 440,768 tonnes. It also took in significantly higher volumes of mixed xylenes (MX) in March at 9,773 tonnes.

Base oils imports, meanwhile, were up 14% year on year to 262,244 tonnes, while its naphtha imports jumped 36% year on year to 300,764 tonnes, according to customs data.

China March 2011 petrochemical trade data

($1 = €0.69)

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


By: Dolly Wu
+65 6780 4359



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