Two main factors – the startup of new capacity plus tariffs on exports to China – have resulted in large regional shifts in US exports of linear PE. Exports have increased to all regions but especially to Western and Eastern Europe, and combined shipments to those regions now exceed those to Asia-Pacific.
US exports of ethylene polymers set a another record high in October, 2018, climbing to 706,300 tons. Volume in January was 494,000 tons.
On August 23rd, the US imposed tariffs of 25% on imports of a number of fabricated plastic products from China, including film/sheet from PE and PP, tubes/pipes from PE and PP and monofilament from PE. US imports from China of all these products except PE film/sheet were down in August versus July.
As of August 23, 2018 China imposed a 25% tariff on a number of products from the US, including HDPE, ethylene-alpha-olefins copolymers and EVA. The new tariffs did not reduce total US exports of ethylene polymers in August, which continued at record levels.
US exports of polypropylene, propylene copolymers and polyisobutylene were down 14% through July 2018, to 1.1 million tons, while imports jumped 36%, to 370,000 tons.
Reflecting new capacity, US exports of ethylene polymers (LDPE, LLDPE, EAOC, HDPE, EVA, Copolymers) trended upward from the last quarter of 2017 and climbed through several new highs through July 2018.