By Nurluqman Suratman
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korea’s petrochemical exports fell by 5.0% year on year in March, weighed by lower prices, with paraxylene (PX) and benzene recording steep declines in volumes, industry data showed on Monday.
“Petrochemical products declined as a result of lowered unit prices of exported goods due to naphtha price declines,” the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) said in its monthly report, without disclosing further details.
PX exports fell by 21.8% year on year to 287,647 tonnes in March, while shipments of benzene declined by 35.5% to 149,697 tonnes, according to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA). (Please see table below)
South Korea's exports of petroleum products, meanwhile, fell by 3.5% because of weaker demand from the country’s major export partners, according to MOTIE.
Its overall exports in March rose by 5.2% year on year to $49.8bn, while imports grew at a slower pace of 3.6% to $45.6bn, the ministry said.
This resulted in a trade surplus of $4.19bn last month, down from a surplus of $3.34bn posted in March 2013.
Overall exports to the US rebounded, posting a double-digit growth in March on the back of higher consumer products and machinery shipments, MOTIE said.
Shipments to the EU also showed double-digit growth, partly on higher exports of petroleum products, it added.
“Korea is accelerating its export growth thanks to its robust exports to advanced countries, despite multiple negative external factors including concerns over the slowdown of the growth of the Chinese economy,” MOTIE said.
China is a major export market for South Korean petrochemicals.
“Some negative factors exist, including the Ukraine situation, hikes in consumption taxes in Japan and financial uncertainties in emerging countries as a result of the US tapering policy, but it is expected that Korea’s exports will grow continuously in the second quarter if advanced economies are fully recovered,” it added.
Exports (in tonnes)
|PRODUCT||March '14||March '13||YoY Difference||% Change YoY|
|Buta-1,3-diene and isoprene||19,492||14,248||5,244||36.81|
|Mixed Xylene Isomers||23,188||58,900||35,712||60.63|
|Vinyl Acetate Monomer||1,597||2,822||1,225||43.41|
|Paraffin Wax (slack wax and scale wax)||316||731||415||56.77|
|P-wax with less than 0.75%||35||28||7||25|
|PVC (not mixed with other substances)||56,083||55,915||168||0.3|
|PVC (In aqueous dispersion)||29||14||15||107.14|
* red font indicates a negative number
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