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PE and PVC imports from US flooding Europe

by Esra Ersöz - eersoz@chemorbis.com
  • 22/03/2019 (03:55)
Statistics reveal a remarkable jump in PE and PVC imports from the US to Europe in 2018. Given the new capacities coming online in the US and the changing trade routes, US cargoes are highly likely to continue finding their way to Europe in 2019 to an increasing degree, suggesting an additional pressure on Europe’s local pricing.

PVC imports from US to EU doubled in 2018

Starting with PVC, imports from the US to EU28 doubled in 2018 on a yearly basis to reach more than 161,000 tons, statistics from Global Trade Tracker (GTT) show. Although this volume is considered small when compared to more than 3 million tons of net PVC imports of Europe, the fact that its market share more than doubled and US PVC prices have started to be closely tracked across European players is gaining prominence.

US PVC imports of Italy triple on year

Among EU28 countries, Italy had the largest share of PVC imports from the US in 2018 with the most visible jump on a yearly basis. Italy imported more than 38,000 tons of PVC from the US, tripling from a year before and forming 24% of the overall imports of the EU for this origin. This was despite the fact that overall PVC imports of Italy shrank by 4% on a yearly basis.

UK becomes the second largest importer of US PVC

The UK followed Italy as the second largest importer with almost 35,000 tons of US PVC in 2018, marking a 95% increase from 2017.

EU’s overall PE imports from US jump 93% y-o-y

When four different products of PE, namely LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE and mLLDPE, are taken into account together, the cumulative imports of EU28 from the US showed a yearly increase of 93% to more than 580,000 tons/year in 2018.

mLLDPE imports from US stand out

mLLDPE imports from the US constituted the largest share in terms of size among other PE products with more than 270,000 tons last year. Statistics also suggest a yearly jump of 150%, which is marked as the most visible change when compared to other PE products.

US mLLDPE set to expand market share rapidly in EU

This notable change is recorded despite the fact that overall net imports of the EU28 for mLLDPE rose by a relatively smaller amount of 22% on year in 2018. The size of imports from the US made up 13% of the overall imports while this was only 6% in 2017. Accordingly, the US is expected to expand its market share further and faster in 2019.

HDPE imports also up considerably

EU28 imported more than 160,000 tons of HDPE from the US last year, up 130% from the previous year. Although this formed only a tiny portion considering the net HDPE imports of the EU at almost 6 million tons, its speed to steal market share is becoming crucial.

US LDPE and LLDPE imports remain relatively modest in EU

Across the EU, LDPE and LLDPE imports from the US remained relatively small both in terms of size and yearly growth when compared to mLLDPE and HDPE. LDPE imports grew by 30% on year while LLDPE imports were up by 20%.
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