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Asian Chemical Connections

China’s LLDPE and LDPE markets see overstocking on unfounded recovery hopes

China’s LLDPE imports in February this year reached their highest level for that month on record – 499,168 tonnes.

This seems likely to have been overstocking on anticipation of the post zero-COVID bounce back that hasn’t happened, as imports in March April fell month-on-month by 6% and 7% respectively. January-April 2023 exports also reached 64,678 tonnes – 96% higher than last year.

China HDPE 2023 demand and net import forecasts

Scenario 1 for next year assumes that China successfully transitions from its zero-COVID policies. Consumer confidence comes roaring back. Demand grows by 4% year-on-year to a market of 17.6m tonnes.
Scenario 2 assumes that high infection rates and lack of healthcare resources keep consumer confidence depressed but that the global economy recovers, supporting China’s exports. Growth is minus 2%, leaving demand at 6.6m tonnes.
The worst-case outcome is Scenario 3 where the impact of zero-COVID continues, and the global economy gets weaker. Consumption falls by 4% to 16.1m tonnes.

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