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China’s total PE imports in Jan-Feb fail to catch up with last year’s record on coronavirus

by Pınar Polat - ppolat@chemorbis.com
  • 01/04/2020 (10:05)
ChemOrbis Import Statistics suggest that China’s cumulative PE imports hit a record-high in the first two months of 2019. However, this was not the case in 2020 due to an unexpected virus outbreak that affects the whole country and soon the whole world in terms of economy.

How virus outbreak takes a toll on trading in China

The first cases of the virus were reported in China around late December 2019. Due to the rapid circulation, the impact of the virus permeated both inside and outside mainland China heading towards January-February 2020. Named as COVID-19, soon after the outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Chinese government took strict measures to cope with the virus including the extension of the Chinese New Year holiday, lockdowns in some regions including Hubei and the epicenter Wuhan along with travel bans, all hindering trading activity and economic data.

By early February, the General Administration of Customs People’s Republic of China (GACC) postponed the release of the preliminary trade data for January and decided to combine it with February figures.

China’s total Jan-Feb PE imports down on year for each grade

China’s total January-February PE imports in 2020 decreased around 6.7% when compared to the same period of last year to be reported at approximately 2.4 million tons.

Among all PE products, China’s LLDPE imports posted the highest yearly fall in January-February, followed by LDPE and HDPE.

LLDPE

China’s total LLDPE imports in the first two months of 2020 decreased 8% when compared to the same period of last year to be reported at around 800,000 tons, with Saudi Arabia standing at the top of the import list with around 170,000 tons.

LDPE

Total LDPE imports in the first two months of 2020 recorded a yearly loss of 10.5% to reach 440,000 tons while the main exporter was Iran with 100,384 tons.

HDPE

In the January-February period, the country’s total HDPE imports decreased by around 4.5% from a year earlier to stand around 1.2 million tons.

Saudi Arabia was the top supplier of HDPE to China during this period with 295,649 tons.

What lies ahead?

China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that China’s PMI rebounded in March after plunging to a record low in February due to COVID-19 impact. This was mainly attributed to the improvement in the downstream activity as a reflection of the prevention and control of the virus.

China is signaling some positivity given the latest economic data as well as the government’s plans to adjust lockdowns in some regions. However, buyers are still mostly skeptical and cautious amid concerns over the possibility of a second wave of the virus as well as a global recession.
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