US Commodity Polymer Trade in 2018

US statistics for December, delayed by the government shutdown, are now available and show large increases for the year on exports of ethylene polymers, on imports of propylene polymers and PET, and, on imports of some fabricated plastic products.

Exports of ethylene polymers were up 35% for the year, to 7.2 million tons. There were particularly large percentage gains on exports of ethylene-alpha-olefins copolymers, 2.1 million tons, up 132%, and HDPE, 2.6 million tons, up 26%.

Exports of ethylene polymers to all world regions increased, the largest volumes going to Latin America, 3.1 million tons, up 19%, Asia-Pacific, 1.7 million tons, up 50%, and Western Europe, 956,000 tons, up 155%.

Exports of propylene polymers contracted by 11%, to 1.8 million tons; imports rose 39%, to 716,000 tons.

Trade in styrenic polymers changed little from the previous year, with exports of 608,000 tons down 1% and imports of 689,000 tons up 5%.

PVC exports posted a gain of 8% for the year, to 3.3 million tons, the gain mainly reflecting heavy shipments in the first half of the year.

Despite tariffs due to the trade war, US imports of fabricated plastic products identifiable by a specific polymer set a record in December. Volume for the year was 4.2 million tons, up 19%. Polyethylene bags and sacks and PVC floor and wall coverings, both of which have China as the top supplier, made up over 60% of the total. Imports of PE bags and sacks slowed in the fourth quarter but imports of PVC floor and wall coverings rocketed to a new high in December.

From International Trader Publications’ United States Polymer Trade Report, an online Report updated monthly as soon as US statistics are released.