The blog is still shocked by the terrible events in Japan. It would like to express its deepest sympathy to all those who have suffered loss.
For those of us far away from the disaster, life has to go on. It will be some time before its full impact becomes clear. But in a crisis such as this, there is no substitute for reliable and accurate trade data, to help assess possible market Scenarios.
The above chart, prepared by my IeC colleague Bob Townsend, sets out Japan's major export volumes in 2010, and their destinations. It is based on data from Global Trade Information Services, whose full database covers a vast range of chemical and polymer products:
• Paraxylene (PX) is the largest export. 2.4 million tonnes were exported in 2010, with 1 million tonnes to China (blue column), 550KT to Korea (brown), 300KT to Taiwan (green), and 500KT elsewhere (purple).
• Styrene monomer (SM) exports were 1.4 MT, with half to China, 475KT to Korea and 120KT to Taiwan.
• Polyethylene (PE) exports were 480KT, again with half to China, and the rest to a range of countries.
• Ethylene (C2) exports were 460KT, with nearly half to China, 150KT to Korea, and 95KT to Taiwan.
• PTA exports were 330KT, all to China.
• Polypropylene (PP) exports were 300KT, with half to China, and the rest to a range of countries.
Clearly it is very hard to be clear, at this early stage, about the likely impact of the earthquake. My blogging colleague, John Richardson, has written two excellent posts setting out key background to Japan's chemical markets. Hopefully, these will also prove helpful.