Petrochemical trade between China and ASEAN expected to grow

19 July 2012 10:22  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Petrochemical trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to grow further in the next few years as trade with the Middle East wanes, an industry executive said on Thursday.

"Affected by preferential trade and unrest in the Middle East, China's petrochemical trade with ASEAN will be on the rise in the next few years," said Cady Chen, epoxy resins business manager, consulting department, at China National Chemical Information Center (CNCIC).

Chen was speaking at the day-long 2012 China Petrochemical Industry Conference in Singapore.

"It's difficult for China to maintain normal trade relationship with the Middle East," Chen said, adding that sanctions on Iran are already hitting trade flows.

China's crude oil import from Iran fell to 590m tonnes in the first four months of this year, compared with 855m tonnes in the same period of last year, according to Chen.

ASEAN is currently China's third largest free-trade partner, with the trade value between the two sides reaching a record high of $363bn, up by 24% year on year, in 2011, according to Chen.

China's imports of petrochemicals from the top four ASEAN exporters - Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia - have been increasingly steadily since 2006, and will continue to grow at a fast pace over the next few years, she said.

The country's petrochemical imports from Malaysia, for example, have recorded an annual growth rate of 25% in 2006-2011, reaching $11bn in 2011, Chen said.

Trade between the two sides have been boosted since 1 January 2010 when the China-Asean free trade agreement came into play, she added.

Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand accounted for 86% of China's exports in 2011, valued at around $15bn, according to Chen.

Indonesia replaced Singapore to become China's largest petrochemical export destination among ASEAN in 2011, she added.

By: Nurluqman Suratman

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