US-China trade war and the impact on the petrochemicals market

ICIS is tracking the impact on global petrochemical markets of the broadening trade dispute between the US and China. New tariffs came into force on 23 August on products imported into markets in both countries. The cost burden is shifting direct US-China trade onto other regional markets, displacing current product flows and potentially threatening the profitability of regional players in northeast and southeast Asia.

Players globally are nervous globally about the impact in big markets like PE (polyethylene) and for products where the US is building considerable, low-cost, export potential. The knock-on effect from the new tariffs on many other goods and the industries that require them has yet to be effectively determined.

ICIS reporters and analysts in Asia, the US, Europe and Latin America are in constant touch with the market players most directly affected by the widening trade dispute.

ICIS has unlocked the following news stories which give you access to an extensive coverage of the latest US-China trade war disputes, analysis and comment articles published by ICIS. It will continue to follow this developing story.


  • Part 1 - $34bn. These 25% tariffs were published on 11 June and imposed on July 6. Click here to see the list.
  • Part 2 - $16bn. These 25% tariffs were published on 11 June and will go into operation on 23 August. Click here to see the list.

The US Trade Representative office on 8 August said US Customs officials will begin collecting duties on 23 August.  The finalised list contains 279 from the June list of 284. An updated list will be published in the Federal Register.

The US will hold hearings on 20-23 August.  On 1 August the Trump administration proposed to increase the tariff from 10% to 25%.

The list is massive, exceeding 6,000 products. It includes several industrial chemicals such as olefins, aromatics, alcohols, acetyls, acrylics, anhydrides, glycols and glycol ethers.

Nitrogen fertilizers and surfactants are included as well as caustic soda and titanium dioxide(TiO2).


On 15 June China said it would impose a 25% tariff on $50bn of US imports in retaliation for US President Donald Trump's administration moving forward with US tariffs.

  • Part 1 - Tariffs on $34bn of US imports kicked in on 6 July, which included agricultural products such as corn and soybeans but not chemicals. Click here to see this list published in Mandarin.
  • Part 2 - China’s finance ministry also listed a second set of US exports valued at around $16bn, which include a wide variety of US chemical and energy products. On 8 August China said it would impose an updated list of these tariffs on 23 August.

The new list includes, for the first time, most grades of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plus all high density PE (HDPE). Ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) has been included as well as polypropylene (PP). Low density PE (LDPE) has been removed from an earlier list.China's Tariff List

  • Part 3 - On 3 August China published a new list of $60bn worth of products to attract a tariff of between 5-25%. These tariffs have not yet been imposed. Click here to see a full list of chemicals.

Key petrochemicals such as aromatics (including toluene and its derivatives), methanol, acetic acidterephthalic acid (PTA), methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI), toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) will all face a 25% punitive duty.

For further tariff details and interactive graphics, please click here:

US-China trade war creating side effects for global oleochemicals market
19 September 2018

Revised US tariff list removes 142 chemical, plastic products – ACC
18 September 2018

US tariffs against China to have limited impact on fertilizers
18 September 2018

China to slap 5% & 10% tariffs on $60bn of US goods from 24 September
18 September 2018

China imposes countermeasures to new round of US tariffs
18 September 2018

US to impose tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese imports, may add more
18 September 2018

US Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018 does not roll back US-China tariffs
14 September 2018

Trade war intensifies as round 3 tariffs get closer
6 September 2018

Retaliatory tariffs on US chem exports to China threaten $18bn in economic harm – ACC
6 September 2018

US chem distributors face $1.277bn hit from latest tariff round
6 September 2018

China tariffs to cause major disruption to global PE markets
30 August 2018

INSIGHT: US meg production faces short term challenges after tariffs from China
23 August 2018

INSIGHT: US chemical exports to take bigger hit in US-China 2nd round of tariffs
23 August 2018

US-China trade war escalates as new round of tariffs take effect
23 August 2018

More news on the US-China trade war
For the latest analysis and the developments on the US-China trade war, ensure that you subscribe to ICIS news to access our full range of content including the (blogs and news) below:

INSIGHT: A methanol world turned upside down
4 September 2018

China LLDPE futures drop 1.9% for the second consecutive day
3 September 2018

INSIGHT: China's new US import tariffs to barely dent polyolefins but re-export concerns
24 August 2018

Insight: US chemical exports to take bigger hit in US-China 2nd round of tariffs
23 August 2018

Weak Turkey adds woes to Europe PE market as China tariffs come into effect
23 August 2018

US-China trade war escalates as new round of tariffs take effect
23 August 2018

US EDC caught in China tariffs; players expect minor disruptions, firmer prices
22 August 2018

China's latest tariffs on chemicals, polymers set to distort regional trade
22 August 2018

China petchems players calm on new tariffs, seek alternative suppliers
22 August 2018

US ACC requests removal of all chems plastics from third tariff list against China
20 August 2018

Blog: US risks losing access to 82 of global PE consumption growth
20 August 2018

US-China trade war

The US-China trade dispute is foremost on the minds of chemical industry CEOs and analysts alike with the potential for major tariffs, companies must be prepared to adjust their supply chains and change their long term investment plans.

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  • Commentary on supply/demand trends, trading activity and upstream/downstream markets, as well as changes in government policy

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