Imports of propylene polymers, styrenic polymers, PVC and PET all hit new highs in July on strong demand and tight supplies. Imports of ethylene polymers also surged. Hurricane Ida’s recent impact on US production capability is expected to further aggravate domestic supplies, especially for PVC and styrenics, increasing imports and reducing exports.
US exports of polyethylene slumped from August through October 2020 in the aftermath of several hurricanes, then climbed back to record territory in December. Exports to China in January were up more than double from the prior January.
Imports of HDPE were 9.1 million tons in 2020, up 14% from the prior year; linear polymer as EAOC, 6.7 million tons, up 17%; LDPE, 3.4 million tons, down 1%; and EVA, 1.0 million tons, down 3%. Much higher volumes from North America and Eastern Europe and little growth in supplies from the Middle East were striking trends.
After slowing in July and August, China’s imports of polyethylene rose strongly in September, 2020, and were accompanied by rising prices. Imports of conventional high pressure LDPE and HDPE set new records.
Economic recovery was apparent in the stunning surge in China’s imports of virtually every major grade of commodity polymer in June. Import volume for the month, 3.6 million tons, was unprecedented and raised China’s YTD import total to 15.9 million tons, up 8% from the first half of 2019.