Imports of commodity polymers totaled 6.8 million tons in the first quarter, down 5% from the same period, pre-Covid-19, in 2019. Exports of a basket of fabricated plastic products were down 3%, to 2.6 million tons.
China imported 11 million tons of ethylene polymers through July, 2019, up 19% from the same period in the prior year. The US supplied 3.6% (397,000 tons) of the total, down from 5.2% (839,000 tons) at the end of 2018.
In April 2019, for the second month in a row, China’s imports of ethylene polymers hit a new record high. Year to date, reduced volumes from North America were offset by increased volumes from Asia-Pacific sources.
China’s imports of ethylene polymers slowed only slightly for the New Year holiday in February and then shot to a new record in March 2019. Exports of fabricated plastic products, however, fell sharply in February, with only a partial rebound in March.
Much higher imports of polyethylene and styrenic polymers, reduced polymer imports from the US, no imports of recycle polymers, and, record high exports of fabricated plastic products characterized China’s trade in 2018.