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Stats: Total polymer imports to EU27 inch up in Q2 despite pandemic

by Manolya Tufan -
  • 25/08/2020 (18:00)
Data from ChemOrbis Stats Wizard reveal that the EU27’s cumulative polymer imports increased marginally by 0.5% in Q2 to 1,826,240 tons when compared to the first quarter of 2020.

June polymer imports rose by more than 11% on the month to hit around 651,390 tons as the normalization process started. Meanwhile, overall imports in the first six months of 2020 stood at 3,643,610 tons.

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 at midnight and is no longer a Member State of the European Union. However, the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year. For February 2020 or later, the former EU28 will not be calculated or published. However, historic data for EU28 including January 2020 will remain on the ChemOrbis Stats Wizard database. In addition, data for the UK, separated from the EU Member States, is also available to ChemOrbis users.

Quarterly PE, PVC and PET imports defy lockdown restrictions

The European Union boosted imports of PE, PVC and PET in the second quarter of the year despite virus-hit trading during the lockdown period. Nationwide lockdowns that started as of March paved the way for stricter controls at borders and ports, which in turn hindered smooth international trading.

PET imports took the lead with a quarterly increase of around 6% to reach 295,290 tons during the April-June period. This was followed by PVC imports, which rose by around 3% at 84,250 tons. PE imports also increased by around 2% to be reported at 1,005, 420 tons during the same period.

PET textile imports soar from Q1

Overall PET imports showed the best quarterly performance among other polymers. This may be related to the boosted demand for PET applications including food packaging and hygiene products during the pandemic.

PET bottle imports to the EU27 rose by around 4% to 232,690 tons. Meanwhile, PET textile imports soared by around 15.5% on the quarter to 62,600 tons.

LDPE fails to align with other PE grades

Imports of most PE grades indicated quarterly increases except for LDPE. MLLDPE imports saw a visible gain of 8% from Q1 2020 to hit 193,190 tons, while HDPE imports also rose around 7% to 394,420 tons. LLDPE imports rose marginally to 305, 680 tons.

However, LDPE imports fell to 112,130 tons in the April-June period, down 17% from the first quarter of 2020.

Contraction in automotive sector takes its toll on ABS imports

The automotive industry has become one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. The temporary closure of automotive plants amid logistical mishaps and containment measures curbed buying appetite for polymers used to manufacture cars.

Overall PP and ABS imports fell by 6% and 7.5% respectively in the second quarter of 2020 when compared to the first quarter. PP imports retreated to 347,410 tons while ABS imports dropped to 42,180 tons in Q2.

Meanwhile, overall PS imports posted a smaller drop of around 4% in the second quarter to be reported at 51,690 tons.

Quarterly EPS imports fall by 14%

EPS imports fell significantly by around 14% to 25, 350 tons in the second quarter when compared to the January-March period. Although construction sites were first to resume work in the post-lockdown period, EPS requirements reduced to an important extent in the previous months.

However, cumulative GPPS and HIPS imports posted an increase of around 8% on the quarter to reach 26,340 tons.

Monthly imports rise for most products except for ABS

On a monthly basis, overall June imports mostly increased from May in line with the easing lockdown restrictions and returning demand.

Overall PS imports in June grew at the fastest pace, indicating an increase of around 18%. This was followed by PE (17%), PET (9%), PP (3%) and PVC (2.5%). However, ABS was the only exception, indicating a monthly drop of about 12%.
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