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Stats: China’s monthly PE imports poised to shrink below 1 million tons

by Pınar Polat - ppolat@chemorbis.com
by Esra Ersöz - eersoz@chemorbis.com
  • 02/12/2021 (08:35)
Data from ChemOrbis Import Statistics reveal that China’s overall PE imports in October, including HDPE, LDPE, and LLDPE, recorded a decrease of around 12% on the month and 35% on the year to stand at slightly above 1 million tons.

October’s figures also demonstrated the lowest levels since June 2021 although the peak season for PE in China stretches from September to October traditionally. Comparing October with the previous years, it also represented the lowest level since 2017. After all, October is a short month in terms of trading amid the National Day holidays.

Once new plants become fully operational, China’s import dependency will shrink considerably. It is already evident to see this slump as January-October cumulative imports represent a yearly decrease of 16%. The monthly import volumes may go well below 1 million threshold in the near and medium term. The last time monthly PE imports stood below this threshold was back in 2017 and 2018.





October PE imports plunge 34-40% on year

A breakdown of the latest data also indicated that China imported nearly 515,000 tons of HDPE in October, according to ChemOrbis Stats Wizard. This volume made the largest contribution to the country’s total PE imports in the month, implying a decrease of 10% on month and 40% on year.

The United Arab Emirates became the top HDPE supplier of China with 114,456 tons and followed by South Korea (94,744 tons). Saudi Arabia (91,323 tons) ranked third on the list, meanwhile.

HDPE was followed by LLDPE and LDPE imports with monthly volumes of around 330,000 tons and 222,000 tons, respectively, ChemOrbis Stats Wizard suggests. LLDPE imports saw a decrease as they slashed by 15% on month and 38% on year. LDPE imports were also down by 12% on month and 34% on year.

Capacity additions in China to ease dependency on imports

According to ChemOrbis Production News Pro, PE markets in China remain under aggregated pressure from 2.2 million tons of additional capacity that was slated to start up since the second half of this year. Meanwhile, a total of 3.4 million tons of PE capacity was planned to come onstream throughout 2021 in China.

Once these new plants become fully operational, China’s import dependency will shrink considerably. It is already evident to see this slump as January-October cumulative imports represent a yearly decrease of 16%. The monthly import volumes may go well below 1 million threshold in the near and medium term. The last time monthly PE imports stood below this threshold was back in 2017 and 2018.

Competition to heat up in global markets

Not only China but also South Korea and the US have been adding new PE capacities, contributing to the supply glut.

Upon losing market share in the world’s largest PE buyer, global suppliers particularly from the Middle East, South Korea and the US will need to seek alternative destinations in the midst of the lingering freight issues. Accordingly, competition will definitely heat up across the PE markets.

To track the impact of the new additions and the supply balance between new capacities and offline capacities, visit ChemOrbis Production News Pro.
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