China’s polyethylene imports rebounded strongly in November 2017. This followed a relatively small holiday-related decline in October, versus previous years. Imports of recycle polyethylene continued trending downward, to their lowest monthly volume in the 2013-2017 period.
China imported 11 million tons of ethylene polymers through October 2017, up 20%. Imports of all grades were up substantially and volume has been heavy since August.
After trending downward for most of 2016 and into early 2017 China’s imports of liquefied butane gases soared to a new record high of 557,000 ton in May and continued to rise in June, reaching 587,000 tons. Average prices slipped in both months, to $433/ton in June.
Through May, 2017, China imported a total of 5.4 million tons of ethylene polymers, up 17% from the same period in 2016. Iran supplied 823,000 tons, or 15%, of the total, down 7%. A restriction on imports into China from Iran, will likely be made up by Saudi Arabia, US, Korea and UAE, among others.
Preliminary figures for 2016 indicate a 6% increase in global trade volume in polyethylene film and sheet, to just under 5 million tons.
Brazil exported nearly 2 million tons of polyolefins, styrenic polymers, vinyl polymers and PET in 2016, up 28% from 2015.
Global trade in DEG was down 9% through August, to 0.8 million tons based on earliest available data. Lower imports into China were a major factor.
Unusually low imports of monoethylene glycol into China early in 2016 were reflected in trade flows globally, especially exports out of the Middle East and from Asia-Pacific suppliers. Global volume of 8.1 million tons through August was down 11%, despite strong demand in several other markets.
China’s imports of methanol surged to new highs in the second quarter of 2016 and continued very strong through August. Year to date, imports were up 68%.
In 2015, several countries reported exports of butylene to Saudi Arabia totaling over 46,000 tons. Through April, 2016, over 44,000 tons have already been shipped to that market.