2019 – the Baseline Year Before Covid-19

2019 was a particularly important year as a baseline because it showed trends that were evolving globally before massive dislocations from Covid-19.

Trends varied widely by product because of new capacity, the US-China trade war, governmental policies and other factors. All of these impacted global trade volume in 2019, which ranged from +12% to -14% versus the prior year for key polymers, chemicals, liquefied gases, and fabricated plastic products. Trends in global trade volume broadly reflect trends in demand.

Products for which the amount of product moving globally as trade increased by 6-12% from the prior year included: HDPE; EVA; Polystyrene; PET; LNG; Liquefied Propane Gas; Liquefied Butane Gas; styrene; propylene; methanol; PVC Floor/Wall Coverings. (An outlier was ethylene-alpha-olefins copolymers, up 22%.)

Products for which trade increased by 1-5% from the prior year included: LDPE; LLDPE; polypropylene; propylene copolymers; PVC; polycarbonates; melamine resin; film and sheet from PE, PP, PS, PET and PC; cyclohexane; butylene; MEG; EDC; VCM; caustic soda.

Products for which trade volume either was unchanged or fell by up to 5% included: PSX; ethylene; ABS; SAN; polyacetals; PMMA; epoxide resins; phenolic resins; benzene; p-xylene; and PE sacks and bags.

Steepest contractions in world trade, down by as much as 14%, were seen for: recyclable PE and PS; o-xylene; and, phenol.

From the 2019 Yearend World Trade Reports for each of the products. World Trade Reports are continuously updated online analyses of global trade based on statistics from 100 countries. Yearend Reports are available separately and can be credited toward full year subscriptions.