Nearly 3 million tons of LDPE were traded globally in the first quarter of 2014, up 7% from last year’s first quarter. Global trade volume for LLDPE was over 2 million tons, up 3%; for HDPE, over 4 million tons, up 6%. Prominent trade trends for LDPE for the first quarter included much higher Asia-Pacific intra-regional trade and also net imports into that region, a 21% increase in exports from Western Europe, 4% higher exports from North America and a 6% gain on shipments from the Middle East.
In LLDPE, expanded Asia-Pacific intra-regional trade and higher net imports were also key factors during the quarter. On the export side, however, although shipments from both Western Europe and North America increased substantially, up 23% and 13% respectively, exports from the Middle East were flat. Although the Middle East exported more polymer to Asia-Pacific, this was offset by lower volumes to Europe.
The increase in HDPE world trade volume in the first quarter mainly reflected sharply higher exports from the Middle East to Asia-Pacific plus a small gain to Western Europe. Shipments from Saudi Arabia rose 12%, from Iran, 27%, and from United Arab Emirates 42%. Exports from Western Europe were up on trade with Eastern Europe but shipments from North America dropped 18% on lower volumes to all world regions.