Brazil's economy has soared in recent years, as its raw materials have supplied China's infrastructure boom. China now accounts for 17% of total exports, and has replaced the USA as its largest trading partner.
In turn, of course, this led to major growth in Brazil's own chemical demand. Its polyethylene (PE) imports grew 78% from 445KT in 2008 to 793KT in 2011. But as the chart shows, based on Global Trade Information Services data, the position has changed quite dramatically this year, as China has slowed:
• Brazil had become a marginal net importer in 2011 (green column)
• But this year it has become a net exporter again (red)
In terms of the key regions:
• ME and SEA have maintained their increased volumes in 2012
• But NAFTA imports are down 27% versus 2010 (blue)
• Brazil's net exports within Latin America are up 20% versus 2010
• Its exports to Europe are up 24%, whilst NEA imports are down 43%
This highlights how China was the key driver for global chemical demand since its stimulus programme began in 2009. Now it is slowing, competition is increasing again as producers fight for market share in export markets.