OUTLOOK ’14: LatAm PS prices to keep moving in a narrow band

02 January 2014 20:00  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Latin American polystyrene (PS) markets have varied little all year and have not shown great differences from country to country, trends that are expected to continue in 2014.

As a mature market, globally PS demand is expected to grow at about 1%, a much smaller rate than that of other plastic resins such as linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) or polypropylene (PP).

This is one of the main reasons why major producers have been getting away from this commodity, seeking to invest in markets with better growth perspectives.

Gains in PS have been confined by the price of competing PP resins and recycled material has become a formidable new competitor for virgin PS.

Consolidation has been the key word in Latin America, and the topic continues to produce headlines these days with the acquisition of Brazil’s Innova by Videolar.

This acquisition is still in the hands of the CADE, the government agency that regulates mergers and acquisitions to foster competitiveness for business.

Producer Unigel has two PS plants in Brazil, but has been forced to hibernate one of them to keep costs down.

Prices have moved within a narrow band in 2013 and this is expected to continue in 2014.

Argentine producer Petrobras Energia has made great strides in profitability during 2013 despite starting the year with technical difficulties in production of styrene and PS.

The company had to endure also a prolonged labour strike that kept the plant paralysed for more than 90 days.

Stringent import regulations in Argentina and Venezuela have kept competitors at bay. PS prices in these two countries are at the top of the chart (see chart below).

Prices in Venezuela are a total anomaly in comparison with international prices because of government regulations, and they will continue to be for as long as the current regulations remain in place.

With its proximity to the US and no trade barriers because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico’s PS prices have remained the most competitive in Latin America.

Chile has no PS production and depends from regional suppliers and imports from the US Gulf or Asia to supply its needs.

There are no new PS projects in Latin America, and if something is going to change in 2014 that could be the ownership of some plants.


LatAm PS price chart

By: George Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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