Trends in Polyethylene Exports and Imports by Region from 2018 to 2022

Much higher exports out of North America and flat exports out of the Middle East were evident from a comparison of regional exports from 2018 through 2022. On the import side, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America saw steady growth in imports.

Global trade in polyethylene (all grades) was 64 million tons in 2018. Volume trended strongly higher in 2019 and again in 2020, peaking at 71.1 million tons. Trade slowed in 2021, to 67.8 million tons, as Covid depressed demand, but expanded again in 2022, with 68.4 million tons projected for that year.

Global trade is the sum of intra-regional trade plus either exports or imports, which are equal because each export has a corresponding import. Because global trade is driven by demand for widely traded polymers, the trend in global volume also generally indicates the trend in global demand, given supply availability.

Two prominent changes in regional exports were an increase in exports out of North America by 2022 by more than 50% from 2018, and, essentially flat exports out of the Middle East.

On the import side, every region except Asia-Pacific trended higher, noting especially Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. Sharply lower demand in China in 2021 and 2022 was reflected in the drop in imports into Asia-Pacific as well as in the total global volume.

From International Trader Publications’ World Trade Analyses for LDPE, LLDPE, EAOC, HDPE, EVA and other ethylene copolymers.