The United States is Back. New Record High on PE Exports in May 2020, Much Higher Shipments to China a Key Factor.

US exports of ethylene polymers rose to 1.0 million tons in May, 2020, an all-time high, after slowing to 885,000 tons in April. The average price across the major polymer groups fell to $921/ton.

US exports of the five major ethylene polymers totaled 4.8 million tons through May, up 24% from the same period in 2019. Shipments rebounded of ethylene-alpha-olefins copolymers, HDPE and Identified-LLDPE. Smaller volume exports of conventional high pressure LDPE and EVA slowed for the second month in row.

A striking feature of US exports in May was the increase in exports to China. These went from a low of 34,000 tons in March, to 52,000 tons in April, to 174,000 tons in May, making China the top US export destination that month. (Note that the US ranked ninth among China’s suppliers of ethylene polymers through May.) US shipments in May to other top destinations, Mexico, Belgium and Canada, stayed about the same as in April, but volumes to many other destinations were down. US exports of ethylene polymers during May by destination and average price per ton are shown below:

From International Trader Publications’ US Polymer Trade Report, a monthly analysis of US trade in all polymers of ethylene, propylene, styrene, VCM and PET, recycle polymers and fabricated plastic products.