Trends in China’s Trade in Commodity Polymers in 2021

Unlike prior years, imports of commodity polymers did not surge into China toward yearend 2021 in advance of the Chinese Year slowdown. Also unusual was the sharp rise in exports out of China in December. The year ended with commodity polymer imports down 19%, to 27.5 million tons, and exports up 74%, to 8.9 million tons.

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Trends in Russia’s Exports of Polyolefins

Much lower exports to Asia-Pacific in 2021 versus 2020, due to a steep drop in shipments to China, shifted Russian exports toward Eastern Europe, Western Europe and, with smaller volumes, Latin America and Africa.

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Growth in the Volume of Polyolefins Traded Globally was Arrested in 2021 by Supply Issues; a Rebound in 2022 is Likely as Supply Increases

The trend in global trade volume generally indicates the trend in demand for polymers that are widely traded, but this depends on supply availability. A strong upward trend was evident in global trade in 2019 and 2020 for linear polyethylene, HDPE and PP homopolymer, but not in 2021.

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Western Europe’s Polyethylene Imports in 2021 Projected to Nearly Equal 2019 Pre-Pandemic Levels; Polypropylene Imports, to Exceed Those Levels

Imports of PE and PP from Eastern Europe increased in both 2020 and 2021. Large volumes of polymer were imported from the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, North America and other regions, despite widely discussed logistics issues.

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MEG Global Trade Volume Projected Down 9% in 2021, to 15.3 Million tons

The decline in the global total is primarily attributable to substantially lower imports into China, which is not expected to be offset by higher imports into Turkey, India, Mexico and Pakistan, among others.

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China’s Commodity Polymer Imports Were Down 17% Through September, 2021; Exports Were Up 77%

China’s imports of all the major commodity polymer groups – PE, PP, PS, PVC, PET – continued depressed from last year’s levels; smaller volume exports, especially of PP, PVC and PET posted strong gains.

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