China’s Imports of Olefins from the United States

On August 23rd, 2018, China imposed a 25% duty on imports of ethylene, propylene and butadiene from the US. China imports relatively small volumes of propylene and butadiene from the US. Imports of ethylene, however, are sizable and volumes slowed in the fourth quarter, impacted by the duty.

Despite the falloff in volume in the last quarter, China imported 128,000 tons of ethylene from the US in 2018, an increase of 85%. This was out of total ethylene imports of 2.6 million tons, up 19%, top suppliers including South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and US. In addition to higher volumes from the US, imports from Korea and Saudi Arabia were up 1% and 5% respectively. Imports from Japan dropped 18%. Of note were large percentage gains on imports of ethylene from Thailand, India, Italy and the Netherlands.

China imported only 30 tons of propylene from the US in 2018, down from 7200 tons in 2017. Total propylene imports into China in 2018 were 2.8 million tons, down 8%. Imports also declined from top suppliers Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

China’s imports of butadiene for the year were 320,000 tons, down 18%. The US supplied 12,700 tons, shipped early in the year. Leading sources were Korea, Netherlands, Taiwan and Indonesia, imports from all of which were down.

From International Trader Publications’ World Trade Reports on ethylene, propylene and butadiene – on line Reports updated daily and capturing nearly all of the world’s trade volume in monomers.