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China’s polymer imports hit a new record despite growing capacity

  • 01/02/2016 (10:56)
China’s polymer imports hit a new record in 2015 by surpassing the 17 million-threshold. This caught many players by surprise in the midst of the widely-heard news about China’s slowing economy, subdued demand and depressed prices. More importantly, China’s imports continued to grow despite the fact that the country continued to add new domestic capacities in 2015.

The overall polymer imports into China moved up by slightly more than 3% on a yearly basis and surpassed the record last broken in 2009. This was also a record for many polymers including PE products and PP copolymers.

On a product basis, the most noticeable jump was in HDPE imports in 2015 as they grew by 12% on a yearly basis. This was followed by around a 9% increase in PP copolymer imports. LDPE imports grew by 6% and LLDPE by 5% last year when compared to 2014, all representing a record import level for the year. The increases in PE imports were achieved although China brought new PE capacities online in 2015.

Unlike the past 5 years, PVC imports rose in 2015 by around 5% in comparison to a year before. PVC imports to China had been receding gradually since 2009 in line with the growing domestic capacity. However, the country’s domestic production shrank by around 2% last year due to unfavorable margins, which appears to have been compensated by more imports.

Imports of three products fell in 2015, on the other hand. The most obvious decrease was in PS as the country imported almost 11% less in 2015 than in 2014. This was largely due to buyers’ preference to switch to other products for their end product applications. ABS imports fell by 3% too.

PP imports dropped 6% as well in 2015 on a yearly basis, which was attributed to the new capacities coming online in China. According to market sources, China’s domestic PP production capacity rose by 6.4% in 2015 on a yearly basis, which exactly coincides with the loss in imports. Analysts expect domestic production to rise more until the country becomes self-sufficient in the long run.

You can visit ChemOrbis Import Statistics to see the exact figures for China’s imports by origin and by product. You can also run your own graphs and make yearly, quarterly and monthly comparisons in ChemOrbis Stats Wizard.
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