Europe chems stocks slide as US-China trade war tensions intensify

Source: ICIS News


LONDON (ICIS)--European chemicals sector stock prices sank on Wednesday following the announcement by Chinese authorities of retaliatory tariff measures against the US targeting sector exports.

Source: Xinhua News Agency/REX/ShutterstockChina’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday announced its intention to increase tariffs on 106 US-origin products by an additional 25%, with nearly half of the list comprising industrial and chemical raw materials.

The China list has 44 industrial and chemical raw materials, including butane, polycarbonate, epoxy, acrylonitrile and others. (see table below)

The measures, which have not yet been instated, were announced in retaliation to additional tariff measures unveiled by the US on Tuesday setting out additional 25% tariffs for 1,333 products from China, covering the aerospace, information technology and machinery sectors.

Where the US tariffs were spread across a diverse spread of products, worth a collective $50bn in imports, China intends to levy $48bn-worth of hikes on a product list less than 10% of the size.

“Such unilateral… and protectionist action has gravely violated fundamental principles and values of the WTO. It serves neither China’s interest, nor US interest, even less the interest of the global economy,” said China’s embassy to the US in a statement.

“As the Chinese saying goes, it is only polite to reciprocate,” it added.

The Office of the US trade Representative said on Tuesday that the measures were a response “to China’s policies that coerce American companies into transferring their technology and intellectual property to domestic Chinese enterprises.”

China is the third-largest export market for the US after Canada and Mexico, and three of the sectors targeted – soybeans, aerospace and passenger cars – represent the three most significant sectors for US firms selling to China, according to US Census Data. Of the $48bn in targeted US-origin exports, nearly $40bn are represented by those three sectors.

Aside from the potential impact on chemicals markets, the ramifications for agriculture, which sent global soy and corn futures prices into a spiral in Wednesday trading, could have a significant effect on fertilizers producers if China pushes ahead with the measures.

The DJ Euro Stoxx chemicals index had fallen by nearly 2% from Tuesday’s close as of 12:59 GMT on Wednesday, with fertilizer producers and players with significant exposure to the automotive sectors suffering the most protracted slumps.

Shares in K+S and Yara had fallen by around 2.3% compared to Tuesday’s close, while LANXESS stock fell 2.32% over the same period.

The UK’s FTSE 100 index dropped by 0.42% compared to Tuesday’s close as of 13:21 GMT, while Germany’s DAX dropped by 1.17% and France’s CAC 40 slumped 0.85%.

The escalating friction between the two biggest economies is expected to boost prices of a range of products beyond those in the lists, industry sources said.

China’s response has raised fears of a global trade war, but US President Donald Trump, who said last month that trade wars are “easy to win”, stated on Wednesday that China had already won the battle.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the US. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500bn a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300bn. We cannot let this continue,” he said.

HS code product description
27111200 Liquid propane
39074000 Primary shape polycarbonate
38151200 Supported catalysts with noble metals and their compounds as actives
38220010 Diagnostic or experimental reagents attached to the backing, except those under tarriff code of 32.02,32.06
38249999 Other chemicals and chemical products that are not listed in other tariff codes
38248700 products listed in Note 3 of this Chapter's sub-chapter containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its salts, perfluorooctyl sulfonamide or perfluorooctane sulfonyl chloride
38248800 products listed in Note 3 of this Chapter containing four, five, six, seven or octabromodiphenyl ethers
38248500 Contains 1,2,3,4,5,6-HCH (6,6,6) (ISO), including lindane (ISO, INN)
38249100 Mainly from dimethyl (5-ethyl-2-methyl-2oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorin-5-yl)methylphosphonate and double [(5-ethyl- Mixtures and products of 2-methyl-2oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorin-5-yl)methyl]methylphosphonate (FRC-1)
38248600 products listed in Note 3 of this Chapter containing PeCB (ISO) or Hexachlorobenzene (ISO)
38248400 Contains aldrin (ISO), toxaphene (ISO), chlordane (ISO), chlordecone (ISO), DDT (ISO) [Diptrix (INN), 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2 - Bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], Dieldrin (ISO, INN), Endosulfan (ISO), Endrin (ISO), Heptachlor (ISO), or Mirex (ISO), products listed in Note 3 of this Chapter
38151900 Other carrier catalysts
39079999 Other polyester
38159000 Other unrepresented reaction initiators, accelerators
39011000 Polyethylene with a primary shape specific gravity < 0.94
29261000 Acrylonitrile
34039900 Lubricants (exclude petroleum or oil extracted from bituminous minerals)
38220090 Whether or not attached to a diagnostic or experimental formulation reagent on the backing, except items under tariff code 32.02,32.06
38112900 Lubricating oil additive without oil or oil extracted from bituminous minerals
39073000 Primary shape epoxy
39206200 Polyethylene terephthalate sheet foil flat strip
39199090 Other self-adhesive plastic plates, sheets, films and other materials
39209990 Other plastic non-foam plastic sheets
39269090 Other plastic products
39019090 Other primary shape ethylene polymers
39014090 Other ethylene-α-olefin copolymers, specific gravity less than 0.94
39069090 Other primary shape acrylic polymers
39041090 Other primary shapes of pure polyvinyl chloride
39100000 Primary polysiloxane
39119000 Other primary polysulfides, polysulfones, and other new products not specified in other code in Note 3 to Chapter 39
39219090 Unlisted Plastic Plates, Sheets, Films, Foil and Strips
29031500 1,2-dichloroethane (ISO)
40023990 Halogenated butyl rubber sheet, sheet, tape
29349990 Other heterocyclic compounds
35069190 Adhesives based on other rubber or plastics
39081011 Polyamide-6,6 slices
39072090 Other primary-shaped polyethers
39121100 Primary-shaped, unplasticized cellulose acetate
39089010 Aromatic polyamides and their copolymers
39089020 Semi-aromatic polyamides and their copolymers
39089090 Primary polyamides of other shapes
39201090 Other vinyl polymer plates, sheets, tapes
34021300 Non-ionic organic surfactants
34031900 Lubricants (containing oil or oil extracted from bituminous minerals and <70% by weight)

Pictured: An investor at a stock market in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province (Source: Xinhua News Agency/REX/Shutterstock

Additional reporting by Fanny Zhang

(Update re-leads, adds Us, China governmental comment, new detail throughout)