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Stats: US PE, PVC exports see a smaller-than-expected fall in H1 2021

by Esra Ersöz - eersoz@chemorbis.com
  • 09/08/2021 (10:20)
It was not surprising to see a slump in US PE and PVC exports in H1 this year since having faced massive production hiccups particularly in the aftermath of the polar storm in February. Plus, the deepening shipping crisis has been hammering exports. Nevertheless, this slump has not been a major one.

The US appears to have ramped up exports to nearby destinations including Latin America and Canada to make up for the loss in global markets.

US H1 PE exports slump y-o-y

According to ChemOrbis Import Statistics, overall US PE exports displayed a yearly decline of 17% in H1 to around 4.5 million tons. Even though the players across Europe, China and Southeast Asia have felt the absence of this regular and major source in the midst of persisting supply tightness and logistic hurdles, statistics suggest that US PE was largely available in North and South Americas.

US PE flooded to Latin America and Canada

The share of Latin America in US PE exports rose from 29% in H1 2020 to 35% in H1 2021 with Mexico being by far the main export destination. The US exported 16% more PE this year to Mexico in H1 than the same period of last year while the increase was more dramatic in Brazil with 62%. Brazil’s share in overall US PE exports also rose by 5% to more than 10% this year as it stood up to be in second place. Exports to Canada rose by 11% on year, meanwhile.

PE – US– LLDPE– HDPE– Exports


PE exports to ‘outside America’ take a heavy knock

Statistics suggest a yearly drop of 18% for exports to Belgium and 27% to Turkey. Asian destinations appear to have faced a tougher slog since exports to China fell by 33% on year and 45-48% to Singapore and Malaysia. China was the second main destination for US PE in H1 2020, having a 10% share in overall exports, while it fell to 8% this year.

Overall PVC exports down but Latin America share booms

Similar to PE, PVC exports also fell by 17% in H1 this year from the same period of last year to slightly more than 1 million ton. The change in paradigms was more outstanding in the PVC market as many export destinations of last year were wiped out of the top list so far this year.

Latin America’s share in overall US PVC exports almost doubled to almost 40% while Canada was raised by 10% to 26%, all on a yearly comparison. Upon losing ties with Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries, the US shifted all of its attention to Canada and Latin America, where PVC exports grew by a hefty amount of 37% to Canada, 21% to Mexico, 86% to Peru, 28% to Guatemala, 91% to Colombia and 39% to Costa Rica.

PVC exports to Asia whipsawed by shipping snarls

China, which stood as last year’s second largest export destination, suffered a substantial loss of 87% this year to end H1 with only 17,000 tons. Pakistan, UAE, South Korea, India and Vietnam also failed to make it in the top 20 list. The enduring shipping problems resulted in sky-high freight costs between the US and main Asian countries and thus, making US export prices unworkable in these destinations.

Meanwhile, exports to Egypt fell by 52% on year. However, the country still stood as the 4th largest destination for US PVC.

US PVC did not miss the record-high prices in Turkey in H1

On the other hand, PVC exports to Turkey also soared by 39% on year, which was due to the record-high prices in the country between February and May, providing the most favorable netbacks for sellers in the midst of acute supply tightness.

PVC – US– Exports
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