Trends in United States’ Trade in Commodity Polymers in 2021

Imports of commodity polymers into the US in 2021 were the highest volume ever reported, 7.0 million tons, an increase of 1 million tons, 16%, from the prior year. The increase in imports, and also the drop in US exports by 15%, to 14.2 million tons, reflected strong domestic demand, US production issues and logistical problems. Demand is likely to continue strong in 2022. New US capacity and the gradual resolution of supply chain issues will likely result in further declines in imports and rising exports.

Commodity polymers include all grades of polyethylene, polypropylene, styrenics, PVC and PET. Imports of the combined polymers slowed sharply in December. Exports, which are much larger, continued trending lower.

Imports of ethylene polymers, 3.5 million tons, up 3%, were mainly from Canada. Imports of propylene polymers were sourced much more broadly and had the highest percentage increase, up 77%, to 0.8 million tons. Styrenic polymers imports of 0.7 million tons, up 11% also were sourced broadly, as were imports of PET of 1.5 million tons up 34%. Vinyl polymer imports were 0.4 million tons, up 13%, also mainly from Canada.

Across all the commodity polymers the main sources of US imports were: Canada, 50%; Asia-Pacific, 22%; and Latin America, 14%.

From International Trader Publications United States Polymer Trade Report, an analysis of the US’s monthly trade in commodity polymers, recyclable polymers and key fabricated plastic products, issued as soon as the US publishes its trade statistics.