S Korea March petchem exports fall 5%; PX, benzene shipments slump

28 April 2014 05:09 Source:ICIS News

By Nurluqman Suratman

S Korea March petchem exports fall 5%; PX, benzene shipments slumpSINGAPORE (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)

Overseas shipments of polyethylene (PE) were down by 5.24% year on year at 115,792 tonnes, while exports of polypropylene (PP) slipped by 0.83% to 91,414 tonnes, the data showed.

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
Ethylene 76,080 95,154 19,074 20.05
Benzene 96,518 149,697 53,179 35.52
Polypropylene 90,653 91,414 761 0.83
Polyethylene 109,725 115,792 6,067 5.24
LLDPE 48,038 32,121 15,917 49.55
LDPE 31,154 24,702 6,452 26.12
Toluene 123,273 82,638 40,635 49.17
Propylene 135,518 91,876 43,642 47.5
Butadiene Rubber 27,550 26,402 1,148 4.35
Buta-1,3-diene and isoprene 19,492 14,248 5,244 36.81
Styrene 107,931 104,682 3,249 3.1
Paraxylene 224,935 287,647 62,712 21.8
PET 57,981 65,362 7,381 11.29
Mixed Xylene Isomers 23,188 58,900 35,712 60.63
PTA 236,870 218,169 18,701 8.57
MMA 5,038 4,785 253 5.29
PMMA 13,119 10,915 2,204 20.19
Orthoxylene 6,995 6,050 945 15.62
Expansible polystyrene 9,215 14,570 5,355 36.75
Acrylonitrile 22,474 20,089 2,385 11.87
Polycarbonate 43,805 33,181 10,624 32.02
Ethyl Acetate 2 1,063 1,061 99.81
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 (non-plasticised) 18 41 23 56.1
PVC (plasticised) 2,119 2,119 0 0
PVC (In aqueous dispersion) 29 14 15 107.14

* red font indicates a negative number

Source: KITA

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By Nurluqman Suratman