Imports of linear low density polyethylene into Western Europe from North America are projected to nearly equal the region’s imports from the Middle East by year end 2019, based on latest available statistics from 90 countries. Imports of HDPE from North America are trending sharply higher. Imports of both LLDPE and HDPE from the Middle East declined in 2018 and are projected down in 2019.
Western Europe imports and exports low density polyethylene as three main grades: conventional high pressure PE; linear PE; and ethylene-alpha-olefins copolymers (EAOC), which is also linear. The trends in intra-regional trade, exports and imports for these polymers indicated a slightly long position for the region by year end.
The March 1 deadline for an increase from 10% to 25% in tariffs by the US on $200 Billion of imports from China has been postponed, but tariffs on many polymers and chemicals put in place earlier by both countries remain.
Two main factors – the startup of new capacity plus tariffs on exports to China – have resulted in large regional shifts in US exports of linear PE. Exports have increased to all regions but especially to Western and Eastern Europe, and combined shipments to those regions now exceed those to Asia-Pacific.