PSX Trade Grows in 2011; PSN, ABS, SAN and Styrene Trade Contracts

Weak demand was apparent from the reduced volumes of PSN, ABS, SAN and styrene traded globally in 2011. PSX trade volume expanded, but at a slower rate than in 2010.
The volume of non-expandable polystyrene global trade in 2011 was 3.7 million tons, down 5% from the prior year on a drop in demand in all regions except Eastern Europe and Africa. In 2010, global trade had increased 2%. Key trends in 2011: lower intra-regional trade in Asia-Pacific, Western and Eastern Europe and North America; increased imports into Western Europe, up 22%, Eastern Europe, up 12%, and Africa, up 7%; reduced imports into Latin America and Middle East. Asia-Pacific exports grew 22% on gains to all regions except the Middle East.

Global trade in expandable polystyrene rose 5% in 2011, to 2.2 million tons, versus a 14% gain in the prior year. Key trends: slightly higher intra-regional trade in Western Europe and Asia-Pacific; higher imports into Western Europe, up 20%, Eastern Europe, up 8%, Latin America, up 18%, and Middle East, up 1%. Exports from Western Europe rose 1%, primarily on shipments to Eastern Europe. Latin America’s exports were up 5% on North American trade; Asia-Pacific exports rose 8% on higher volumes to all regions except Africa and North America.

Global trade in ABS fell 11% in 2011, to 4.4 million tons, versus a gain of 7% in the prior year. Weak demand was evident in every world region. Key trade trends: reduced intra-regional trade in Asia-Pacific and Western Europe; lower imports into every world region except Eastern Europe, which was unchanged; lower exports out of Asia-Pacific, Western Europe, North America and Latin America.

SAN trade was down 4%, to 0.5 million tons, compared with a 6% increase in 2010. Key trends: lower intra-regional trade in Asia-Pacific; moderately higher intra-regional trade in Western Europe; lower imports into Western Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific; a 17% increase in imports into Eastern Europe; a 12% increase in exports out of Asia-Pacific on polymer shipped worldwide but with the largest percentage gains to Europe.

Weak demand for derivatives impacted styrene global trade, which dropped 5% in 2011, to 10.5 million tons, off from a 9% gain in the prior year. Key negative trends included reduced intra-regional trade in Western Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America and lower imports into Western Europe and Latin America. Partly offsetting these negatives were a 7% increase in Asia-Pacific imports, monomer mainly from the Middle East followed by North America, and an 11% rise in Eastern Europe’s imports, on supplies from Western Europe and the Middle East.

These are a few of the trends in ITP’s World Trade Annual Reviews of 2011. Reviews are detailed analyses of trade between countries and regions, based on import/export statistics from 60 countries, representing nearly all of the world’s trade volume. ITP measures trade volume as the sum of imports into all countries, which equals exports from all countries, as each import has a corresponding export. As the volume of product traded globally is a direct measure of a significant part of apparent demand for the widely traded products in the Reviews, percentage changes in trade volume from year to year generally reflect actual changes in demand.

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Jean J. Sudol
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