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India’s Q1 PVC imports hit record-high; did buyers rush to stock up before expected restrictions?

by Pınar Polat -
by Esra Ersöz -
  • 19/05/2023 (08:10)
According to ChemOrbis Stats Wizard, PVC imports into India during Q1 2023 neared the 1 million ton-threshold, reaching an all-time high. This conspicuous jump both on a yearly and quarterly basis reveals that half of the full 2022 imports was already achieved in the first quarter, suggesting that players flocked to secure cargoes ahead of the imminent result of the safeguard investigation.

PVC imports into India during the first quarter of 2023 were at around 965,000 tons. Indian buyers’ visibly growing appetite for importing PVC cargoes is interpreted as a forward buying since a precaution to the government’s plans to impose safeguard duties on PVC imports with more than 2ppm residual VCM content from China, Taiwan, the US, and Russia, as a part of which an investigation started back in September 2022.

Market players already expected this probe to hit Chinese PVC imports into India, and now they are waiting to hear the “final findings”. Before going into details about China’s possibly changing position in terms of India’s PVC supplier, let’s take a deeper look at India’s Q1 PVC imports.

March volume makes the largest contribution to Q1 data

Q1 import volume climbed 90% from the previous quarter and 152% from the same period of last year, not to mention that it is a record-high level since ChemOrbis started to compile data in 2000. Plus, the half of the full last year’s imports was already achieved in the first quarter of this year. PVC – India – Imports

The largest contribution to Q1 data was made by the March volume, which also marks an all-time high on a monthly basis with around 410,000 tons, data also suggest.

ChemOrbis Price Wizard also approves the stock pressure inside China with the slide gaining speed particularly as of March in India. The total losses of average weekly import PVC k67 prices have reached 16% since the February peak, according to ChemOrbis Price Index.

China re-ramps up shares in India’s PVC imports

In last year’s Q2, when India’s total PVC imports were around 535,000 tons, China ranked number one on the importers’ list with around 46% share. As for the Q3, China was chart-topping again, with around 33% of the overall imports of 465,000 tons.

After an Indian probe on PVC with high residual VCM content was issued on September 16, 2022, the country’s PVC imports from China slackened in Q4 . Import data confirmed this, as China was ranked number three on the importers’ list after being the top supplier for two consecutive quarters. China had around 15% share of the overall 507,000 tons. The first two suppliers of the list were coming as no surprise though, with Japan and Taiwan regaining their throne and having around 21% and 19%, respectively.

Coming to Q1 this year, China ramped up its PVC exports to India again, data suggest, having the lion’s share of around 38%. Taiwan and Japan followed China with shrinking shares of around 16% and 12%, respectively.

Outcome of investigation expected to be a game changer

PVC players in India are waiting for clarity on the latest notification regarding the safeguard investigation.

While the unclarity persist, traders said this could certainly have an impact on availability in the market. “Imports of acetylene-based PVC used to account for 30-40% of the total Chinese PVC imports into India before the safeguard duty investigation was notified last year. That notification restricted the flow of imports from China although when the findings were delayed, imports resumed as normal but we’re lately seeing the flow of carbide-based PVC imports slowing down, perhaps in anticipation of the recommendations of the safeguard investigation,” yet another Indian trader said.
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