Korea exported 10 million tons of commodity polymers in 2018, up 4% from the prior year, imported 900,000 tons of commodity polymers, up 15%, plus an additional 150,000 tons of recycle polymers, up 141%.
Exports of ethylene polymers totaled 3.1 million tons, up 2%. Shipments to every region declined except Asia-Pacific, up 6%, and Latin America, up 64%. About one-third of Korea’s ethylene polymer total went to China.
Korea exported 937,000 tons of virgin PET in 2018, unchanged, mainly to Asia-Pacific. PET imports more than doubled, China providing about half of the 196,000 ton total.
Imports of recycle PET also more than doubled, polymer mainly from Asian-Pacific sources.
Korea was a large exporter of fabricated plastic products in 2018 shipping 900,000 tons mainly within the region. One exception was PVC floor/wall covering, the largest market for which was North America. As this product is currently assessed additional duties as part of the US – China trade war, shipments from Korea to US are likely to rise if a trade agreement is not reached.
From International Trader Publications’ 2018 Yearend Korea Polymer Trade Report, a 50 page publication analyzing Korea’s trade in commodity polymers, recycle polymers and fabricated plastic products.