Recycled PET (R-PET)

Driving the circular economy with actionable data on this key recycled plastic 

Discover the factors influencing recycled PET (R-PET) markets

Demand for Recycled PET (R-PET) around the globe is on the rise. Driven by building pressure from both consumers and brand owners to deliver more sustainable ways of living and reducing environmental impact, this trend shows no signs of abating. A growing number of legislative targets in Europe and the US, together with country-specific developments in Asia, add yet another reason why keeping up-to-date with global R-PET markets is essential.

Navigating what has become an increasingly volatile market is a challenge for new and experienced market players. Access to comprehensive and reliable recycled polymer market data is key.

To meet the needs of buyers, sellers and traders of R-PET, we have expanded our coverage to encompass Europe, Asia, the Americas and beyond. We are recognised as the benchmark price for recycled polymers, including R-PET. Our European historic price data shows developments since coverage began in 2006, and the additions of the US and Asia reports adds a global view to this dynamic market and enables a holistic view on how this market continues to emerge around the world.

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INSIGHT: Surging freight rates hamper Asia petrochemical trades

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–A severe shortage of containers and vessel space as commercial ships take a much longer route to avoid the Red Sea has sent freight rates skyrocketing in recent weeks, artificially propping up petrochemical prices even as demand remained generally weak. Some sellers offer on free on board (FOB) basis but no takers Freight costs for Chinese exports more than double India may suffer near-term shortage of select petrochemicals Across markets in Asia in recent weeks, industry players’ lament boils down to this exasperated hyperbole: “The freight rates are killing us!” It takes the fun out of witnessing some initial signs of recovery in external demand for global manufacturing giant China. Whatever export competitiveness Asia gained from having weaker currencies against the US dollar is being undermined by the high cost of shipping out of the region. The Chinese yuan recently fell to a six-month low, while the Japanese yen continues to trade at multi-year lows against the US dollar, which is firmly supported by higher-for-longer interest rates. Overseas demand for Chinese products, including petrochemicals, seems to be improving, but actual trades are being hampered by logistics woes stemming from the Red Sea crisis in the Middle East. Attacks on commercial ships have continued in the key shipping lane that connects Asia to Europe, the latest being on an oil tanker bound for China. Rerouting of ships to the Cape of Good Hope meant longer voyage times and much slower turnover of vessels and containers, thereby, creating a strong pressure on freight rates, which may persist for most of the year. “The race for capacity appears to have started, with shippers showing strong demand due to shippers moving significant cargo in the first four months of 2024 to avoid potential Q3 constraints​​,” Richard Fattal, chief commercial officer of London-based freight forwarder Zencargo said in a note on 20 May. “Combined with an average of 5% ongoing blanked sailings, there is a looming future of tighter capacity, higher rates and sellers’ market swings ahead,” he said. “With capacity shrinking in the face of resurgent port congestion, driven by equipment shortages in China and longer routes around the Cape of Good Hope,” Fattal said. For Q2, Zencargo is projecting more than a 13% contraction shipping capacity on the Asia-Europe routes compared with Q3 2023, “with alliances cancelling 5% of sailings between weeks 20 and 24 [H2 May to H1 June]”. “The effective capacity to Northern Europe, based on actual vessel departures from Asia, has decreased by 5.1% compared to a year ago,” it said, citing “the longer route taken by the majority of vessels via the Cape of Good Hope, despite a 17.8% increase in vessel capacity on the Asia-North Europe route”. For the Asia-Mediterranean route, however, the overall capacity has “increased by 10.5%, even with the diversions via the Cape” due to a 49.1% increase in total deployed capacity on this route compared to a year ago”, Zencargo said. WEST BUILDING WALLS AGAINST CHINA TRADES The July-September period is the peak season for Chinese shipments to the west, ahead of the Christmas season in December, according to Wang Guowen, director at Shenzen Logistics and Supply Chain Management Research. Possibly driving up US’ overall demand for Chinese goods, which exerts upward pressure on shipping costs, is the impending tariff hike on imports of selected products from China, including electric vehicles (EVs) and battery materials. For Chinese EVs, the US import tariffs would quadruple to 100% from 1 August, which is tantamount to a ban. European countries appear to be considering similar protectionist measures against China, whose overcapacity is deemed to be killing domestic industries in the west. “Western countries' implementation of tariffs and tax structures on Chinese-manufactured automotive and EV exports is anticipated to significantly impact the shipping sector by potentially reducing vessel demand,” online container and leasing platform Container xChange said in a recent note. To bypass these trade barriers, Chinese automotive and EV makers “are accelerating efforts to internationalize their manufacturing, assembly, and distribution processes”, it said, adding that “immediate effects are already evident, as manufacturers are hastening to ship EVs to avoid impending tariffs and uncertainties”. In the global petrochemical scene, manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe, as well as in parts of northeast Asia are shutting down amid China’s overcapacity. Technically, reduced production elsewhere would open up new markets for China’s excess capacity, if not for the surging freight rates, which further deter trades while demand recovery remains fragile. China’s overall exports have remained soft, posting low single-digit annualised growths in three of the first four months of 2024, with one month in contraction. HEADACHE FOR INDIA PETROCHEMICAL IMPORTERS Petrochemical end-users in India are facing long waiting time to get their hands on imports from China. “Now, no shipping lines will confirm fresh Q2 shipment booking, even after dishing out quotes that are three to four times higher than Q1,” an India-based styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) importer said. A phenol trader said: “June vessel arrangements are more troublesome this year because of the Red Sea issues and also China's exports have been weak especially in the past two months, so fewer vessels are being arranged to China.” India is possibly facing a near-term shortage of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), since northeast/southeast Asian suppliers are struggling to export to the south Asian market. Freight rates from both Taiwan and Thailand to India nearly doubled from April, with voyage time for some shipments taking as long as 90 days, up from the usual 30-40 days. For polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), cargoes from the Middle East heading to the south Asian markets of India and Pakistan are also being delayed, amid congestion at the ports of Salalah in Oman, Dammam in Saudi Arabia and Jebel Ali in the UAE. For polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (PMDI) of northeast Asian origin, offers to India have spiked amid tightened regional supply, with delays in getting cargoes from South Korea. SURGING SHIPPING COSTS KILLING SPOT TRADESSpot petrochemical trades are being stalled by constantly changing freight rates on a weekly basis. In the polypropylene (PP) market, some Chinese suppliers have stopped offering on a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis, and will only offer on FOB basis because of the risks. For the China-to-Vietnam and the Vietnam-to-Indonesia routes, freight rates have nearly tripled, market players said. Buyers are less willing to discuss on an FOB basis, unwilling to shoulder an expected high cost since most of them do not have their own regular shipper. For soda ash, offers of Turkey-origin dense grade cargoes for 1,000-tonne lots to southeast Asia for Q3 shipments rose to around $300/tonne CFR, up by $20-30/tonne compared with May shipments. Importers of the material across Asia were largely staying on the side lines, with some of them experiencing delays in receiving Turkish cargoes. “Discussion levels are firming up due to freight costs,” said an end-user, adding that the “Red Sea issue is getting worse and lots of shipments from Europe and USA are stuck.” The same is true for the southeast Asian PE market given delays in arrivals of Middle East-origin cargoes and amid perceptions of shorter supply. In the oxo-alcohols markets, producers in Asia are under strong pressure to offload cargoes at lower prices given difficulty in moving volumes to their usual export outlets. Freight rates on chemical tankers are also on the rise amid the Red Sea crisis, sources from Asia’s monoethylene glycol market, resulting in postponing of cargo-loading by some producers. “The freight rates are quite high now, and we have to optimize our vessel availability,” a major MEG producer said. FURTHER FREIGHT SPIKES LIKELY IN JUNE H2 is typically “a busier, more competitive, and profitable season for the shipping industry”, with many container sellers are “currently holding onto their inventory” in anticipation of better demand, said Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange, in a note in May. "In an environment of heightened market volatility and encouraging demand recovery for global trade, container traders are gearing up for the second half of 2024, where we expect a cyclical rise in demand,” he said. “This combination of heavier-than-expected demand for freight and anticipation of further demand surges in the second half of 2024 is driving up container trading prices in China,” Roeloffs added. In a recently conducted survey of container traders and leasing companies by Container xChange, it noted that a majority of the respondents reported “extremely high prices for 40 ft high cube containers in China”. On 21 May, the average one-way leasing rates quoted in the market rose to as high as $2,480 for 40 HC in China for US-bound shipments, more than double the rate at the start of the month at around $950, it said. With ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant Hamas in Gaza proving elusive and the threat of a wider Middle East conflict still hanging, it looks like high freight rates are here to stay for an extended period. Insight article by Pearl Bantillo With contributions from Nurluqman Suratman, Fanny Zhang, Nadim Salamoun, Judith Wang, Helen Lee, Ai Teng Lim, Samuel Wong, Julia Tan, Izham Ahmad, Jackie Wong, Shannen Ng, Helen Yan and Clive Ong

29-May-2024

APIC '24: Policy fragmentation stalls Asia's plastics circularity drive

SEOUL (ICIS)–Asia's journey towards a circular plastic economy is gaining momentum, but the region's diverse waste management practices and fragmented regulations present challenges to realizing this vision. Harmonizing policies crucial for circularity Demand for recyclates driven by regulations Regional disparities impact global sustainability With a steady rise of plastic consumption in Asia, countries in the region have taken steps to promote the circular economy, including implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy, waste separation requirements and bans of single-use plastics, said Bala Ramani, director of sustainability consulting and Asia strategy advisor at ICIS. EPR shifts the financial and/or operational burden of post-consumer product management from governments to producers. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, and Singapore have adopted the policy. However, the scope and depth of circularity strategies, which require legislation, currently vary widely across Asian countries because the region does not have an overarching administrative body like the EU in Europe to unify countries around sustainability goals. “As the economic and supply chain integration amongst the countries in Asia deepens, there is also a need for regional integration of circular economy policies," Ramani said. Plastic circularity will be a core topic of the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) in Seoul, South Korea on 30-31 May, whose theme is "Trailblazing the path in a sustainable era." REGIONAL DISPARITY While Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have been at the forefront of efficient waste resource management, countries in south and southeast Asia are still working toward setting up a well-managed waste management and recycling infrastructure, Ramani noted. While the “informal sector” plays a significant role in solid waste management in southeast Asia and parts of the Indian subcontinent, northeast Asian countries have established robust systems, reducing their need for such informal contributions, according to ICIS Asia Pacific plastic recycling analyst Joshua Tan. Nine out of the top 20 countries globally with the highest percentages of mismanaged plastic waste are in Asia, Tan noted, and this is particularly evident in coastal populations residing within 50 kilometres of the coast. The same nine countries are identified as major contributors to marine plastics pollution through rivers. Tan said that these countries generate some 844,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, which is more than 20 times the capacity of a typical recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) recycling plant. "For Asia to achieve plastic circularity as a region, it will be imperative for the countries to harmonize policies, develop regional standards (design for recycling, industrial standards for recyclates, mandatory recycled content, trade restrictions etc) and facilitate regional cooperation," Ramani said. CIRCULAR PLASTICS OFFER COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE   Plastics are essential to sustainability across various sectors, from packaging and automotive to agriculture and construction, making effective plastic waste management and recycling crucial for their future viability, Ramani said. “As the chemical sector goes through this period of demand uncertainty and overcapacity especially for fossil-derived products such as virgin plastics, plastic recycling and circularity offers a means of competitive advantage and higher value-addition in the future to ultimately distinguish winners from losers." While mechanical recycling is expected to play a significant role in addressing plastic waste in the region, chemical recycling will be necessary to complement these efforts, particularly due to the diverse waste management systems across different countries in the region, Ramani said. Mechanical recycling dominates the Asia-Pacific market with more than 18 million tonnes/year of installed capacity, dwarfing chemical recycling's nascent 700,000 tonne/year capacity, according to Tan. And while plastic recyclates have become a global commodity, their trade is marked by a stark contrast with virgin plastic material, Ramani said, noting that while demand for recyclates is driven by regulations and brand commitments in certain regions, supply of consistent, high-quality material struggles to keep pace. Recyclates are secondary raw materials derived from either post-consumer household waste (PCR) or post-industrial waste (PIR), with PIR being easier to recycle due to less contamination. "This results in regional imbalances across the value chain from plastic waste collection and sorting to recovery/recycling and ultimately the end-use of recyclates, leading to supply-demand imbalances with prices ultimately driving movement of materials from one region to another.” These regional disparities in the plastics recycling value chain have not gone unnoticed, with significant implications for global sustainability efforts. In response to this challenge, Europe's Antwerp Declaration, launched in February this year, sets ambitious goals for the chemical industry to adapt to rapid expansion of renewable energy, strengthen local supply chains, and shift towards sustainable products. The declaration – now signed by close to 1,200 organizations across 25 sectors – calls for urgent action from European governments to boost industry competitiveness and sustainability, requiring a massive increase in electricity production and a sixfold increase in industrial investments to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. "The recent launch of the Antwerp Declaration by the European chemicals and other industries is a further sign of the more local-for-local world we are moving towards," said ICIS senior consultant John Richardson. “Local-for-local” supply chains involve chemicals as they are the building blocks for all the manufacturing and service supply chains, he noted. "Europe must prioritize new renewable energy projects and make it easy to install the necessary infrastructure… ‘Local-for-local’ domestic supply chains are critical for [supply] security," Richardson said. "Governments need to lead in boosting demand for low carbon and circular products as Europe needs a strong single market for bio feedstocks, plastic waste, recycled materials and electricity," he added. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Click here to view the ICIS Recycled Plastics Focus topic page. Thumbnail image: Plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are widely used for soft drinks and bottled water. PET can be fully recycled. (Source: Helmut Meyer Zur Capellen/imageBROKER/Shutterstock)

29-May-2024

Brazil’s chemicals importers mobilize against tariffs hike proposed by producers

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazil’s importers of chemicals are lobbying the cabinet not to implement the hikes to import tariffs proposed by the country’s producers, represented by trade group Abiquim. Brazil’s Chamber of Foreign Commerce (Camex), a body under the government’s umbrella, concluded on 30 April a public consultation about import tariffs on chemicals. In it, Abiquim presented more than 60 proposals to hike import tariffs, while individual companies presented dozens more. In total, the proposals contemplate hikes in import tariffs in more than 100 products, most of them to be raised from 12.6% to 20%. Some proposals, however, aim to raise some import tariffs from 9% to 35%. A decision by Camex is expected in coming weeks. IMPORTERS MOBILIZEA key actor lobbying against the tariff hikes is Brazil’s plastics transformers trade group Abiplast, who benefit from imports into the country. Abiquim often describes those imports as coming into Brazil at “depredatory prices” which are putting some national production chains at risk due to unfair competition. China’s overcapacities continue casting a shadow in the global chemical industry, and Latin America’s historical trade deficit in the sector makes the region the perfect ground for Chinese producers to send their product, at times below costs of production. On the other hand, Abiplast and consumer groups have said a hike in import tariffs would only increase prices for consumers and industrial players alike and would only benefit Brazil’s chemicals producers. “There should be no increase in import tariffs as this is not a viable solution at this moment, nor at any time in the future. An increase would result in direct increases in prices in the Brazilian market,” said to ICIS a spokesperson for the trade group. Earlier in May, sources in Brazil’s chemicals sector said to ICIS it would be unwise to hike import tariffs right now, as the country reels from severe flooding in Rio Grande do Sul, which has a strong plastics sector, and when more imports may be needed. The floods have brought the state’s industrial fabric to a standstill, although the petrochemicals hub of Triunfo, near Porto Alegre, restarted in mid-May albeit at a slow pace as infrastructure in the state is still heavily disrupted. Abiquim, however, remains unrelentless in its request for fast action, arguing that the restart at Triunfo, with Brazil’s polymers major Braskem leading the way, will be enough to guarantee supply, without the need for more imports. Braskem has a commanding voice in Abiquim. “We don’t agree [with any pause in the hike, if finally approved, because of the floods’ effect]. Braskem resumed operations last week and, furthermore, the high level of predatory imports [in past months] mean that resin producing companies had sufficient stocks to supply the market,” said to ICIS a spokesperson at the trade group. Abiquim is hopeful it will gain the day. His lobbying to the government has gone as high as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, with whom the trade group and a few chemicals producers met last week in Brasilia to make their case for the import tariffs hike. Lula’s center-left cabinet has been since the start more friendly towards chemicals producers than his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who favored a more free-market line. In 2023, the cabinet hiked import tariffs for several polymers twice, and reintroduced a tax break for chemicals called REIQ. Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) main constituency is industrial workers, to whom the President promised during the electoral campaign to create more and better paid industrial jobs. Propping up domestic chemicals production would fall within that line of action. However, after Lula’s meeting with Abiquim, the backlash followed. According to a report by Brazilian daily Valor, Abiplast and 15 other trade groups have requested their own meeting with the President, hoping to stop the proposed increases in import tariffs. Among others, the groups opposing the hike include those representing sectors such as personal care, cleaning products, rubber articles, non-woven fabrics, paints, mattresses, toys, electronics, pharmaceutical products, food, polyolefin fibers, fabrics and clothing, footwear and civil construction. The groups said they were aiming to show to the President the “importance of tariff balance in maintaining industrial activities” in Brazil. BIG (AND CLOSED) CHEMICALS SECTORBrazil’s chemicals demand has always surpassed domestic supply, and around half of the country’s needs are covered by imports. That has been the case in the past few years. What has made the past year extraordinary is China dumping its product in Latin America, depressing prices – and margins for local producers. The fact that a 215-million market such as Brazil has not developed a bigger chemicals industry is surprising. Moreover, the country produces mostly commodity chemicals, which are to suffer from global downturns more than the higher-margin specialized grades. A source at Brazil’s chemicals industry, who deals with Braskem on a regular basis, was not impressed with Abiquim or Braskem’s strong stance in favor of higher tariffs. The source said it preferred to remain anonymous because “creating animosity by going against” the company’s position could put its business relationship at risk. “This [request for higher tariffs] is the cry of business mediocrity, which sees import restrictions as the solution to its productivity and technology problems. A country must not be built on protectionism but on investment in technology, productive capacity, creativity, and scale,” said the source. “Brazil's political class has never prioritized competition as a source of development. Businessmen want to be alone in their businesses and the Federal Government wants to keep only Petrobras [in the crude oil sector] as a form of political financing.” Petrobras is the state-owned energy major, which holds a commanding position in the market despite other foreign players having some licenses to explore for and produce crude oil. The source added that when import tariffs are hiked generally, for all foreign potential exporters to Brazil, that is very different to potential anti-dumping duties (ADDs) imposed against a certain country – in this case, potentially China. “If the request was about ADDs on China’s product, this would be reasonable. But Abiquim and Braskem's request for hikes in import tariffs will affect all imports and this is not correct … We need more competition, not less. With more competition, some companies would have to close their doors indeed," it said. “Other companies, however, those which are more efficient, intelligent and audacious, would grow. Competition is always good and bringing foreign companies to compete in the local market would be interesting. Whenever and invariably private companies need the government to survive, there is a decrease in productivity and investments in new technologies.” However, the government’s ears are so open to chemicals producers’ demands that, on top of two import tariffs hikes in 2023 and the reintroduction of REIQ, earlier this year the cabinet announced the imposition of ADDs on US’ polypropylene (PP). The measure was taken even though US PP imports into Brazil only represented 5% of the total in 2023 – 26,000 tonnes out of nearly 510,000 tonnes. Braskem is Brazil’s sole producer of PP as well as polyethylene (PE), the two mostly widely used polymers. A second source in the Brazilian chemicals distribution sector said the import tariff hikes could benefit all parts of the chain – apart from producers, distributors and transformers as well – but only if all players rise prices in line with the increase in the import tariffs. “If the tariffs are finally hiked, it could represent a problem for us at first if Braskem lowers its prices, for instance – my product acquired pre-import tariff hike would be more expensive and I would have difficulty placing it in the market,” said the distribution source. “If Braskem does not lower its prices immediately, I would be able to maintain my prices. But if prices drop, I would be facing higher costs and lower selling prices: my margins would be greatly squeezed.” Focus article by Jonathan Lopez Additional reporting by Bruno Menini

28-May-2024

PODCAST: Asia R-PET to outperform R-PP, R-PE in H2 2024

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Recycled polymers markets in Asia face different market dynamics, driven by various factors such as additional capacities, inflationary pressures and support from downstream demand. Asia R-PET trade to gain support from new extrusion capacities within Asia, long-haul markets Asia R-PE could continue to perform poorly in H2 amid cheaper virgin PE prices, inflationary pressures impacting finished good demand Asia R-PP could garner support from automotive sector uptake; trade expected to be moderate until end of 2024 In this podcast, Asia recycling senior editor Arianne Perez discusses what lies ahead in the recycled polymers markets, in terms of trends and opportunities.

28-May-2024

APIC ‘24: PODCAST: Asia recycled plastics sees sustainable finance focus

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Sustainable finance is a key interest for companies seeking to enter the recycled plastics market in Asia or to expand their current capacities. Despite the various financial instruments available, the absence of a clear entry point often results in uncertainty for firms. In this podcast, ICIS analysts Chua Xin Nee and Joshua Tan explore the different types of sustainability-related loans available and their successful use cases. (This podcast first ran on 10 May.) Tan will be speaking at the Sustainability and Circular Economy breakout session of the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) 2024 in Seoul, South Korea, on 31 May. His presentation is entitled “Asian recycled polymers – short-term hiccups to long-term optimism”. Visit ICIS during APIC ’24 on 30-31 May at Booth 13, Grand Ballroom Foyer of the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas in South Korea. Book a meeting with ICIS here.

28-May-2024

Latin America stories: weekly summary

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Here are some of the stories from ICIS Latin America for the week ended on 24 May. NEWS Brazil’s Triunfo petchems restart odd one out as wider industry still disrupted – consultant Most of Rio Grande do Sul’s industrial plants remain shut or operating at very low rates as the Brazilian state reels from the floods, with the restart at the Triunfo petrochemicals hub an exception rather than the norm, a chemicals consultant at MaxiQuim said to ICIS. Mexico’s Orbia/Vestolit's Altamira plant ceases operations due to water scarcity Orbia/Vestolit ceased operations at its Altamira, Tampico facilities in Mexico on 21 May due to water scarcity. The company operates there a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) facility with a production capacity of 690,000 tonnes/year. The company estimates it could resume activity on 19 June. SABIC declares force majeure at Tampico Mexico ABS plant SABIC Innovative Plastics Mexico (SABIC) declared force majeure at its Tampico, Mexico acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plant on 23 May. The products affected include CYCOLAC ABS.  This facility has a capacity of 30,000 tonnes. Mexico’s Q1 GDP grows 0.3%, economic activity remains healthy in MarchMexico’s GDP rose by 0.3% in Q1, an acceleration from Q4’s 0.1% quarterly growth, the country’s statistic office Inegi said on Thursday. Brazil’s antitrust authority paves way for Petrobras to shed refinery sales Brazilian state-owned energy major Petrobras has been allowed by the country’s antitrust authority CADE to backtrack on planned refinery sales. Argentina’s manufacturing down nearly 20% in March Argentina’s petrochemicals-intensive manufacturing output fell in March by 19.6% year on year, the country’s statistics office, Indec, said this week. Brazil’s Unigel creditors mull fertilizers divestment The debt restructuring agreement at Unigel, under which the Brazilian chemicals producer’s creditors are to take a 50% equity stake, could result in a divestment of the company's beleaguered fertilizers division. Brazil’s Unigel to give creditors 50% equity stake in debt restructuring Unigel has obtained the support of enough creditors for a debt restructuring plan although it comes at a price as they will be getting a 50% equity stake in the Brazilian chemical and fertilizer producer. Brazil's Braskem restart at Triunfo to kick off petchem hub normalization Braskem has restarted operations at its Triunfo facility in the flood-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul, which will allow other players in the petrochemicals hub to start up their plants as many depend on input from the Brazilian polymers major to operate. INEOS Styrolution declares force majeure at Altamira Mexico facility INEOS Styrolution declared force majeure at its facility in Altamira, Mexico, on 20 May. The products affected include Teluran ABS, Novodur High Heat ABS and Luran ASA. This facility has a capacity of 113,000 tonnes. Chile’s Q1 GDP up 2.3% on strong consumption, manufacturing up 1.1% The Chilean economy started 2024 on a strong footing with GDP growth in the first quarter at 2.3%, year on year, the country’s central bank said on Monday. Volkswagen, Stellantis idle car plants in Brazil, Argentina after floods Volkswagen (VW) idled its three plants in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo on Monday, as suppliers in the floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul are unable to produce any automotive parts, a spokesperson for the German automotive major told ICIS. PRICING LatAm PP international prices stable to up on higher Asian freights International polypropylene (PP) prices were assessed as steady to higher across Latin American countries due to the surge in freight rates from Asia to the region. LatAm PE domestic, international prices steady on sufficient supply, stable demand Domestic and international polyethylene (PE) prices were assessed unchanged this week across Latin American countries on the back of sufficient supply and stable demand.

27-May-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 24 May. Brenntag CEO says Europe must play to its strengths Europe’s chemical sector is seeing a wave of commodity production closures, which is likely to accelerate as the region is suffering from structurally higher energy costs and depressed margins since it lost access to cheap Russian gas. Europe epoxy sentiment stable, Asia imports may face EU antidumping claim Europe epoxy resins prices have been mainly agreed with rollovers for May so far, in spite of a drop in feedstock costs this month. Speculation is also growing over EU anti-dumping claims against Asian imports. Europe naphtha and gasoline prices firm on improved liquidity, summer optimism Liquidity in Europe's naphtha and gasoline markets improved in the week to 17 May as stable-to-soft prices encouraged buying appetite, just as the market is gearing up for an uptick in demand ahead of the summer holidays. Europe PE, PP contract prices down beyond monomer for May Europe’s polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) freely negotiated prices for May are down, with variance by grade

27-May-2024

Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 24 May 2024. INSIGHT: Asia plasticisers producers brace for mounting selling pressure amid soaring freight rates By Julia Tan 24-May-24 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Recently surging freight rates have led to a largely pessimistic outlook for the Asia plasticisers spot market, particularly for producers who rely heavily on export sales, as higher freight rates will continue to keep selling pressure high as sellers find it difficult to move product out of the region. SE Asia PE June offers firmer due to shipment delays, tight supply By Izham Ahmad 24-May-24 11:16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Initial spot import offers for June shipments of polyethylene (PE) in southeast Asia were announced mostly firmer so far in the week ending 24 May, with gains driven by tight supply, which is being aggravated by delays in cargo delivery from the Middle East. US tariff hikes on China EVs, batteries take effect 1 August By Fanny Zhang 23-May-24 13:37 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Starting August, US tariffs on imports of electric vehicles (EVs) from China will quadruple to 100%, while those for battery materials will more than triple to 25%, the US Trade Representative (USTR) said. Freight rates on China exports soar amid Red Sea crisis By Fanny Zhang 22-May-24 11:56 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Freight rates for China's exports, including petrochemicals, have been spiking in recent weeks and are expected to remain firm in the next three to six months on the back of improving overseas demand and amid continued logistics disruptions in the Middle East. INSIGHT: China's industrial activity gathers pace but lopsided April data clouds outlook By Nurluqman Suratman 21-May-24 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China's industrial output grew by 6.7% year on year in April, signalling a further strengthening of its manufacturing sector, but weaker retail sales and bleak property data suggest that its overall growth momentum remains weak. INSIGHT: Asia MEG market continues to brace for headwinds By Judith Wang 20-May-24 20:17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)– Asia monoethylene glycol (MEG) market continues to face headwinds in the near term as it is grappling with the ample supply in China and soft global textile demand. Asia IPA supported by acetone strength; demand lagging By Joy Foo 20-May-24 14:13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–After seeing a sharp increase in late April, tracking a surge in feedstock acetone cost, Asia’s isopropanol (IPA) spot prices have remained buoyant on cost support.

27-May-2024

LOGISTICS: Container rates surge, chem tanker rates ease; Canada rail strike unlikely before July

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Rates for shipping containers continued to surge, liquid chemical tanker rates were flat to softer, and a possible freight rail strike in Canada is unlikely before mid-July, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. CONTAINER RATES The global average for shipping containers has surged past the level seen in late January because of unseasonal increases in demand for ocean freight ex-Asia, as shown in the following chart. Rates are being pressured higher because of possible start of a restocking cycle in Europe and as US importers pull forward some peak-season demand on concerns of pending labor issues or additional Red Sea disruptions later in the year, according to Judah Levine, head of research at online freight shipping marketplace and platform provider Freightos. Rates for containers ex-Asia to both US coasts and to Europe are also nearing multimonth highs, as shown in the following chart. Drewry expects the spike in spot freight rates to lessen in the next few months. But Levine pointed to general rate increase (GRI) announcements for June, which he said indicate that carriers are not expecting demand to ease or conditions to improve in the short term. CMA CGM is setting Asia – north Europe rates at $6,000/FEU (40-foot equivalent unit) starting 1 June, and Hapag-Lloyd has announced an Asia – North America Peak Season Surcharge of $600/FEU to start June that will climb to $2,000/FEU mid-month. Container ships and costs for shipping containers are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), are shipped in pellets. They also transport liquid chemicals in isotanks. LIQUID CHEM TANKER RATES Rates for liquid chemical tankers ex-US Gulf were flat to lower this week. US chemical tanker freight rates assessed by ICIS were mostly steady to lower as rates fell from the US Gulf (USG) to both Asia and India while also edging lower from the USG to Rotterdam. However, were unchanged from the USG to Caribbean and South America. Overall, the market was subdued entering the long holiday weekend. From the USG to Asia, this market has remained overall soft despite a few larger monoethylene glycol (MEG) parcels being seen in the market. From the USG to Rotterdam, it has remained quiet again this week, with available space for part cargo still open amid a lack of inquiries or interest from charterers. CANADA FREIGHT RAIL LABOR ISSUES A possible freight rail strike in Canada is not likely to begin before mid-July, according to rail carrier Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC). The ongoing uncertainties over the looming strike make it hard for Canadian chemical, fertilizer and other industrial producers, in particular exporters, to prepare for a work stoppage. After about 9,300 unionized conductors, train operators and engineers at freight rail carriers CPKC and Canadian National (CN) earlier this month voted for a strike as early as 22 May. Canada’s federal labor minister referred the matter to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), a quasi-judicial tribunal charged with keeping industrial peace in Canada. PORT OF BALTIMORE The full reopening of the Port of Baltimore is closer after the Key Bridge Response Unified Command (UC) refloated the container ship Dali on Monday morning and moved it away from the scene of the collision. The Dali struck the Francis Scott Key bridge on 26 March, causing its collapse, and essentially closing the port. The closing of the port did not have a significant impact on the chemicals industry as chemicals make up only about 4% of total tonnage that moves through the port, according to data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked southbound vessels ready for transit fell this week for traffic in both directions, according to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times a week ago were 3.6 days for northbound vessels and 13.9 days for southbound vessels. With additional reporting by Kevin Callahan and Stefan Baumgarten

24-May-2024

VIDEO: Europe R-PET looking at a more stable market for June

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior editor for recycling Matt Tudball discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: More stable outlook for June looking likely Lower-priced PET could limit June offers Italian bale prices, PET imports could impact R-PET in coming weeks

24-May-2024

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