Engineering plastics (POM, PBT)

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Production and trade of both polyacetal (POM) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) is active across Asia and Europe. These are engineered thermoplastics used in high volumes in the automotive sector as well as for a range of manufactured household products such as showerheads and irons. As a result, POM and PBT prices and market activity is sensitive to fluctuations in consumer demand from downstream markets.

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Engineering plastics (POM, PBT) news

Canada rail labor union to hold new strike ballot

TORONTO (ICIS)–Canadian rail labor union Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) will hold a new strike vote because an earlier mandate for industrial action will expire on 30 June, it said in an update. In early May, about 9,300 unionized conductors, train operators and engineers at rail carriers Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) voted for a strike as early as 22 May. However, Canada’s federal labor minister then referred the matter to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) for a decision about a strike’s impacts on public safety and health. A legal strike or lockout cannot occur until a CIRB decision, and it is unclear when that decision will be made. TCRC said in its update that under Canadian labor law, the strike mandate from May is set to expire on 30 June. In order to be in a position to strike once the CIRB makes its decision, TCRC will therefore conduct a new strike ballot, beginning 14 June and running until 29 June, it said. WHEN COULD A STRIKE START?As the CIRB process is ongoing, the board has extended the deadline for affected industry trade groups to make submissions from 31 May to 14 June. After the CIRB decision, TCRC would have to give 72 hours’ notice before a strike can begin. The CIRB may grant the rail carriers’ request for a 30-day extension, starting from the decision date, before the 72-hour notice can be served. The rail carriers have estimated that given the CIRB process, a strike will not start before mid-to-end July. The parties do not have to wait for the CIRB process to run its course. Instead, they can continue bargaining and reach an agreement at any time. However, TCRC said that since the strike was referred to the CIRB, the rail carriers “have completely withdrawn any commitment to negotiate”. The rail carriers have proposed binding arbitration, but TCRC has rejected this. IMPACT ON CHEMICALS The uncertainties around the timing of rail labor disruption are affecting Canadian chemical, fertilizers and other manufacturers. Canadian chemical producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail, while in the fertilizers industry about 75% of all fertilizers produced and used in Canada is moved by rail. In the run-up to potential strikes, producers need to prepare, longer strikes can force them to curtail production or shut down plants, and after a strike ends it can take weeks for normal operations to resume. The impacts may be limited to some extent as the CIRB can order that rail shipments of certain essential products, for example water treatment chemicals, be maintained during the strike. Thumbnail photo source: Canadian National


PODCAST: Europe BDO, PBT continue to see subdued demand amid supply constraints

LONDON (ICIS)–While the butanediol (BDO) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) markets in Europe have benefited from challenges in importing volumes from Asia, demand remains subdued for sectors. Limited imports from Asia through H1 2024 aided European demand Economic attractiveness of imports remains, but logistical constraints hamper appetite Demand holding steady through Q2, but macroeconomic concerns persist In this podcast, ICIS Europe engineering plastics editor Meeta Ramnani and ICIS Europe BDO editor Yashas Mudumbai discuss the current dynamics and the outlook ahead.


Closures of high-cost assets to accelerate in Europe, northeast Asia – ICIS

SANTIAGO (ICIS)–Announcements of closures for high-cost assets, especially in Europe and northeast Asia, are likely to accelerate in coming quarters as the global petrochemicals industry is forced to rationalize, according to an ICIS analyst on Tuesday. Antulio Borneo, vice president for the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyester chain at ICIS, said announcements of closures for steam crackers – the key facility to produce petrochemicals – in Europe are to accelerate after two key players already said they were shutting theirs. Earlier in 2024, US energy major ExxonMobil said it was to shut its cracker in Gravenchon, France, and Saudi petrochemicals major SABIC said it would shut its facility in Geleen, the Netherlands. “High-cost assets reside mainly in Europe and northeast Asia; the pressure to rationalize old and inefficient assets will intensify as time passes, but it will be expensive,” said Borneo. “Announcements of permanent closures of chemicals plants are expected to gain momentum throughout 2024.” Borneo was speaking at an event about logistics organized by the Latin American Petrochemical and Chemical Association (APLA). The consultant went on to say that Europe’s crackers are, on average, nearly 45 years old, while those in northeast Asia – excluding China – are on average just over 30 years old. With the global oversupply in petrochemicals expected to take years to be absorbed and take the market back into balance, those old assets are first on the line to be shut, concluded Borneo. The APLA Logistica event runs in Santiago on 11-12 June.


Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 7 June. Global urea prices firm as unexpected gas outages hit Egypt The near-term outlook for urea has firmed after prices saw a surprise uptick in North Africa and the Arab Gulf on news of unscheduled plant shutdowns in Egypt due to a lack of gas supply. Europe PET market tension intensifies on freight surcharges, container shortage Rising freight costs and a dearth of containers is thwarting the global flow of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into Europe. Eurozone private sector momentum hits one-year high in May Business momentum in the eurozone hit the highest level in 12 months in May, pushing further into growth territory as service sector orders surged and the manufacturing industry showed signs of recovery. Heavy rainfall, flooding in Germany hits supply routes Torrential rain and flooding in Germany has led to evacuations in parts of the south of the country, hitting already-strained supply lines through central Europe and halting transport along some sections of the River Rhine. IPEX: Index down for first time this year on weak demand in all regions The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) was down 1.2% in May month on month, as weak downstream demand paved the way for price declines in all regions. Europe PE/PP June outlook muddied by falling feedstock costs and rising freight rates Polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) prices in Europe were largely stable for the final week of May, as players were waiting for upstream contract prices to settle.


Mexico’s Altamira petchems force majeure declarations continue on severe drought

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Petrochemicals producers in the production hub of Altamira, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, keep declaring force majeure as a severe drought halved water supplies to industrial players. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Cabot said to ICIS the company has also declared force majeure for carbon black from its Altamira facilities, which adds to several force majeure declarations in the past two weeks. The drought affecting Tamaulipas has its epicenter in the south of the state, where Altamira is located, and recent minimal rainfall has not helped much to fill up the state’s water reservoirs. The drought, which the state government says has lasted already eight years, has reached a critical point in 2024, prompting authorities to arrange water deliveries in tanker trucks from other state municipalities as well as other Mexican states. The crisis could end up hitting US petrochemicals, as the state is a key supplier to that market. Earlier this week, M&G Polimeros declared force majeure on one of its two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) lines from Altamira. The line has a production capacity of 420,000 tonnes/year, which has prompted fears the US’ PET supply could be hit. PETROCHEMICALS HIT HARDCabot’s force majeure from Altamira on carbon black – a material used as a colorant and reinforcing filler in tires and other rubber products, as well as a pigment and wear protection additive in plastics and paints – follows a string of declarations from other producers. “Over the past weeks, the water supply to our Altamira plant has deteriorated in both quantity and quality. Consequently, our plant is currently unable to operate all production units and is running limited production, along with warehouse, packing, and shipping operations,” Cabot’s spokesperson said. “Due to this situation beyond our control, Cabot has declared a force majeure for carbon black from this facility.” Apart from M&G Polimeros’ force majeure on PET, several other producers in Altamira have also issued force majeure declarations or have sharply reduced operating rates. Mexico’s chemicals producer Orbia/Vestolit, a large polyvinyl chloride (PVC) player, was one of the first companies to declare a force majeures out of its facilities in Altamira in mid-May. This week, a spokesperson for the company said to ICIS the force majeure remained in place, with no expected date for return to operations as the water situation has not improved, rather the opposite. Saudi petrochemicals major SABIC declared force majeure on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). European major INEOS Styrolution also declared force majeure on ABS from Altamira, as well as on general purpose polystyrene (GPPS). US chemicals producer Chemours also said it has halted titanium dioxide (TiO2) operations in Altamira. Germany’s major BASF, also with facilities in Altamira, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. Trade group the Association of Industrial Companies of Southern Tamaulipas (AISTAC), which represents many of the producers listed above, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. WATER TANKERS, DRY LAGOONSThe governor of Tamaulipas, Americo Villarreal, ordered this week to send tanker trucks to the south of the state from other municipalities not affected as harshly by the drought, as well as from other Mexican states. The trucks will not sort out the dire situation at industrial parks, however, as the water will be deployed to households, which are also suffering water restrictions. “With the arrival of these units, support to the southern area of ​​Tamaulipas is reinforced, adding to those that the Secretariat [agency for hydraulic resources] had previously sent, as well as those that have arrived from other entities, with 50 units distributing water,” said the state’s government. “[This] coupled with the installation of 25 isotanks with a capacity of 24,000 liters in strategic points, sent previously by the agency.” As if it was not enough for tamaulipecos to suffer water restrictions in their own homes, natural spaces they hold dear are also showing the scars of more severe droughts as climate change advances unabated. This week, local media reported how Champayan lagoon, a large water natural reservoir west of Altamira, dried up practically from one day to the other. Front page picture: Tanker trucks heading to the Altamira area for emergency water supplies for households Source: Government of Tamaulipas Clarification: Re-casts paragraph 15


VIDEO: Europe R-PET June stability continues but demand views vary

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: June stability welcomed across market Some sectors still seemingly bullish Demand views on food-grade pellet vary


Brazil’s Braskem expects operations at Triunfo to normalize in ‘coming days’

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Braskem’s operations at Triunfo in floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul are still yet fully normalized, despite the plant having restarted more than two weeks ago, a spokesperson said to ICIS on Wednesday. The company expects operations to return to normal “in coming days”, the spokesperson added, without providing more details about exact timelines. Braskem’s facilities at the Triunfo petrochemicals hub, near the state’s largest city of Porto Alegre, are a key production hub for Brazilian polymers, but transport to and from the facilities was heavily disrupted by the historic floods. That made access for employees and inputs almost impossible for the most of May. “If weather conditions and access to the complex remain stable, the units are expected to be operational as planned in the coming days. Access to the Triunfo complex by road has already been cleared,” said Braskem’s spokesperson. “Employees are mostly using buses and minibuses contracted by the company to access the complex. Trucks are also circulating on the roads, gradually regularizing logistics operations.” For Braskem’s capacities at Triunfo, see bottom section. LONG ROAD TO NORMALITY At the peak of the crisis, which began on 29 April, around 90% of industrial facilities in Rio Grande do Sul were shut because of the floods, according to local authorities. The state is an industrial and agricultural powerhouse within Brazil and shutdowns there had a knock-on effect on other industrial sectors. Automotive majors Volkswagen and Stellantis, for instance, were forced to shut or reduce operating rates at some of their facilities in Brazil and Argentina, which depended on automotive parts suppliers in Rio Grande do Sul. Both companies confirmed to ICIS this week that they are returning to operations, although Stellantis’s plant in Goiana, in the state of Pernambuco, is still operating at reduced rates. Earlier this week the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed activity in May had greatly been impacted by the floods aftermath. Moreover, this week Brazil’s statistics office IBGE said GDP in the first quarter had registered healthy growth of 0.8%, quarter on quarter, but analysts have said economic output may sharply slowdown in the second quarter because of the impact of the floods. Meanwhile, while road transport may be slowly normalizing, one of the state’s three main ports – Porto Alegre – remains shut to operations, Portos RS, the ports authority in Rio Grande do Sul, said on Wednesday morning. The Port of Pelotas was shut until mid-May, while the Port of Rio Grande was never affected by the floods. The destruction caused by Brazil’s worst flooding in history will take many months, years perhaps, to return to normal operations. The Federal government has announced credit lines with generous financing terms, but industrial groups in the state have said they are insufficient. Analysts have pointed out that the fertilizers markets may be hit by the roads as planting in Rio Grande do Sul’s important agricultural sector will be affected. According to the emergency services in the state, more than 35,000 people are still taking refuge in shelters, while nearly 600,000 remain displaced from their homes. In the state, with a population of 12 million, nearly 2.4 million people have been affected by the floods, which left 172 dead and 44 people unaccounted for. TRIUNFO KEY FOR PLASTICS Braskem is Brazil’s sole manufacturer of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), the most widely used polymers. Its market share in 2023 for PE stood at 56% and for PP at 70%, according to figures from the ICIS Supply & Demand Database. The Triunfo complex, meanwhile, is key for the country’s polymers supply chain, accounting for nearly 37% of Brazil’s PP capacity and 40% of PE capacity. Brazil’s total PP production capacity is nearly 2 million tonnes/year. PE capacity is about 3 million tonnes/year, with 41% being high-density polyethylene (HDPE), 33% being linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and 26% being low-density polyethylene (LDPE). Braskem’s Triunfo complex can produce 740,000 tonnes/year of PP, 550,000 tonnes/year of HDPE, 385,000 tonnes/year of LDPE and 300,000 tonnes/year of LLDPE. Front page picture: Braskem's facilities in Triunfo Source: Braskem  Additional information by Bruno Menini


INSIGHT: Coalition government to rule India as Modi's BJP suffers major setback

MUMBAI (ICIS)–A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government is expected to assume office in India, with a third term for incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi which should ensure continuity of most economic policies. BJP secures 240 seats in Lok Sabha, down from 303 in 2019 India targets sizeable share in global manufacturing pie Legislative process for reforms faces possible delays The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has won the elections, with a tally of more than 290 out of a total of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha or lower house of parliament, ensuring a third consecutive five-year term for Modi’s political party. The numbers, however, were well below expectations of 400 seats. BJP alone secured less than half of the total seats available at 240, below the required 272 for an outright majority. In 2019, the party had secured 303 seats. India, a south Asian emerging market giant, held its national elections over the past six weeks until 1 June. It was the world’s biggest democratic elections, with nearly 970 million eligible voters. “The BJP-led NDA alliance is a pre-poll alliance, and hence, we see less friction in the government formation exercise. Prime Minister Modi in his victory speech re-affirmed his commitments to reforms and growth,” Indian financial services firm Motilal Oswal said in a report on 4 June. GDP GROWTH ROBUST The Indian economy has emerged as among the top-performing economies in the world, logging an 8.2% GDP growth for the fiscal year ending March 2024, with the fiscal Q4 growth at 7.8%. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) forecasts a 7% GDP growth for the current fiscal year 2024-25, based on the central bank’s annual report released on 30 May. “The Q4 GDP growth data for 2023-24 shows robust momentum in our economy which is poised to further accelerate. As I’ve said, this is just a trailer of things to come,” Modi said on social media platform X on 31 May. “Fundamentally, India is witnessing its own mini-Goldilocks moment with excellent macros, solid corporate earnings,” Motilal Oswal said in a report dated 3 June. Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said: “We expect the government to formulate new initiatives, provide policy support and take necessary steps to boost domestic trade and exports,” As part of an election pledge to transform India into a global manufacturing hub, the BJP government wants to offer subsidies for domestic production modelled on recent packages for semiconductor firms and electric vehicle makers, newswire agency Reuters reported on 3 June. The government plans to increase India's share of global manufacturing to 5% by 2030 and to 10% by 2047. To increase the country’s manufacturing capacity, the government is expected to introduce new laws, tax reforms, trade pacts and duty reforms to promote ease of doing business. On its third term, Modi's government could bring about reforms in all factors of production including land, labour, and capital, Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had cited in February. There were also plans to lower trade barriers to help develop domestic industries. The new government is expected to reduce import duties on various components used in the textiles, engineering goods and other industries. India has already reduced tariffs on several mobile device components to boost production and make exports competitive. POSSIBLE DELAYS IN LEGISTATIVE REFORMS With the party’s weakened grip in the lower house, however, legislative reforms such as proposed changes to the goods and service tax (GST) may be delayed. The GST – a single tax that replaced multiple indirect taxes – was introduced in 2017. The government had proposed certain amendments to the GST in the national budget announced in February, which included penalties and changes in procedure of applying the tax. Any proposal to hike the tax rate as part of fiscal reforms is likely to be resisted. Plans to amend India’s Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013, which would make it easier for industries to acquire land may also be subjected to delays. The proposed changes are aimed at freeing acquisition of land from existing restrictions, for certain types of projects like those related to defence, infrastructure and industrial corridors. A third term for a BJP-led government is expected to ensure continuity in India’s economic landscape, with increased focus on clean energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing. “Regardless of the election outcome, policy focus will remain on sectors considered strategic by the major domestic political parties, including renewable energy, automotive, electronics, textiles, digital infrastructure, logistics, food production and services,” research agency S&P Global Market Intelligence had said in a report on 29 May. However, as no political party has been able to secure majority seats by itself, the BJP will be forced to rely on its coalition partners. “A substantial cabinet reshuffle is almost certain in this scenario, with portfolio allocation being distributed across coalition parties and with policymaking becoming decentralized,” S&P stated. The government’s policies will focus on encouraging macroeconomic growth to keep India on track to become the third-largest contributor to global GDP by 2030, it said. Also high on the government’s list of priorities are infrastructure, clean energy sector development, as well as promoting trades with bilateral partners. India is exploring free trade agreements with the UK and the EU, after signing a deal in March 2024 with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. In the Middle East, the south Asian country had signed a trade agreement with the UAE in May 2022 and has recently concluded negotiations with Oman. Insight article by Priya Jestin


INSIGHT: Italy’s plastic packaging tax delay proves most companies still focused on costs over sustainability

LONDON (ICIS)–The postponement of Italy’s plastic packaging tax to July 2026 shows that, for many brands and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, the threat of financial penalties or the push of regulatory obligation is still the main driver for increasing the use of recycled plastics in packaging. Italy has extended the rollout of its €450/tonne plastic packaging tax until July 2026, marking the seventh postponement of the tax which was due to come into effect in July this year. ICIS asked participants across several polymer markets what this means for both the virgin and recycled sectors, and the responses overwhelmingly point to the fact that, without heavy financial penalties or a legal requirement under either state or EU law, many companies will currently opt for cost savings over sustainability. DELAYING RECYCLED DEMANDThe tax would add €450/tonne to the price of virgin plastic in Italy, but the postponement led many sources to expect companies that were considering increasing the use of recycled plastics to stick with virgin material for now. In the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market, those companies that were following the development of the legislation will now continue to use PET rather than switch to recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET), according to one beverage brand. This view was echoed by others, with a converter serving the market stating companies will stay with virgin polymer for the next two years without the financial incentive to move to more recycled content. One virgin polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) producer now sees less pressure to both a circular economy solution as well as investment in the recycling sector. Other comments from market sources reiterated the fact that, without this tax in place, the businesses in or serving the Italian market have lost their incentive to move to higher recycled content levels, especially at a time when prices for recycled material such as R-PET and recycled polystyrene (PS) are commanding a significant premium over their virgin counterparts IMPACTING INVESTMENTAnother common thread running through the reactions to the delay was the impact it could have on investment in certain recycled sectors. One virgin PS source said it expected a slowdown in the development of recycled PS, highlighting the current gap between higher-priced recycled PS and virgin PS preventing companies from exploring the recycled market more. Adding €450/tonne to the price of the virgin material is a substantial step to disincentivize the use of PS and drive people towards recycled PS. A second PS market participant said countries need a mechanism like a tax to promote recycled content and the absence of such a driver will make investment in recycled PS harder. From the brand side, a large FMCG said having the tax in place would help incentivize its customers to use more recycled content, but for the time being it would have to rely on its own and its customers’ sustainability targets – those that have them – to continue to support the argument for the use of recyclate. WIDER RECYCLING ISSUESWhile the delay of the tax only impacts the Italian market, it points to a wider issue seen across both European and global markets when it comes to increasing recycled material usage. Without the financial incentive of something like a tax, or without the legal obligation of a regulation, directive or law, many companies right now will choose margins over sustainability especially in a challenging macroeconomic climate. A good example is the upcoming implementation of the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD), which among other things, mandates the use of 25% R-PET in PET beverage bottles from 1 January 2025. Many R-PET market participants have yet to see demand for R-PET reach the levels expected ahead of implementation. The issue is linked to the lack of clarity around how the SUPD will work; how the 25% will be measured – by individual unit or country-wide incorporation – who will be checking the percentage of R-PET in the bottles and what the penalties will be for those who miss the target. Some R-PET sources think some brands may simply declare they are using R-PET when they are not because they do not expect they will be audited, or others may simply ignore the Directive because of a lack of enforcement. It was a similar situation with the Spanish €450/tonne plastic packaging tax in January 2023. R-PET sources saw no impact on demand last year – though that may have been caused by the wider cost-of-living crisis impacting consumer demand during 2023 – and it was only in May this year that the first Spanish company has reportedly been audited by Spanish authorities to ensure compliance. The UK is an interesting case study in the use of a tax to drive recycled plastic inclusion. In the financial year 2022-2023, Plastic Packaging Tax (PPR) receipts collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) totaled £276 million. Government data shows of the total plastic packaging manufactured in and imported into the UK, 39% was declared as taxable under the PPT, and of the remaining 61% declared, 40% contained 30% or more recycled plastic. While there was a good proportion of recycled plastic placed into packaging during the financial year, the £276 million collected shows that many companies paid the £200/tonne rather than pay more for recycled material. There are instances that show alternative approaches to taxation or regulation can have a positive impact on the recycling sector. In France, lower eco-modulation fees – a form of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – on the sorting of mixed plastic waste led to the creation of a recycling stream for low density polyethylene (LDPE) flexible materials and a growing market for recycled low density polyethylene (R-LDPE) bales and pellets, for example. Eco-modulation fees can also encourage the use of certain types of material but also disincentivize the use of others, as seen in the Czech Republic, where the eco-modulation fee for using clear PET bottles was lowered in 2021, while the fee for placing coloured PET bottles on the market – perceived to be harder to recycle than clear – was increased. The reaction to the Italian tax, the revenue generated by the UK tax and the seeming lack of urgency from some beverage brands ahead of the SUPD indicates that for many companies currently, increasing the use of recycled plastic is nowhere near the top of their list of priorities. While consumers focus on reducing the cost of living and companies focus on improving squeezed margins, investment in recycling and the drive to reducing virgin plastic consumption will most likely take a back seat for now. Additional reporting by Stephanie Wix, Caroline Murray, Ben Monroe-Lake, Carolina Perujo Holland and Mark Victory Insight article by Matt Tudball


Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended Friday 31 May. Freight costs, chaos assures demand for Europe PTA, PET As shipping complexities intensify again, gone are the talks of weak demand holding back European sellers of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Europe May melamine contract decline spells end to eight-month rally Europe melamine May contract prices were assessed at double-digit decreases, the first drop this year. Europe R-PET market enters stable period, but Italy remains a question mark June price talks in Europe's recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) markets have concluded at rollovers in the majority of cases, bringing to an end an upward trend in prices seen since December. European PET import costs, delays still causing headaches; could support local demand in June European polyethylene terephthalate (PET) logistical challenges surrounding imported material are still apparent which could drive more local demand in Europe. DATA WATCH: Europe chemicals export more at beginning of 2024 but importing remains an option Trade flows of chemicals both into and out of Europe have changed significantly this year, with the ongoing Red Sea disruptions and the subsequent lack of vessel space across different parts of the world being a key factor.


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