Western Europe’s Trade in Low Density Polyethylene in 2018

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.

Trends in low density polyethylene are clarified by combining conventional high pressure PE plus linear PE as LDPE/LLDPE, and comparing this to EAOC.

Intra-regional trade in LDPE/LLDPE was 4.5 million tons in 2018, down 4% from 2017 based on latest available data. Exports to other regions were 2.1 million tons, up 1%; imports from other regions were 1.6 million tons, down 9%.

Percentage changes for EAOC for all the trade flows were high indicating there is still ongoing transition to this new product category, which was first introduced by the World Customs Organization in 2017. Intra-regional trade was 1.3 million tons, up 12%. Exports to other regions were 0.57 million tons, up 17%; imports from other regions were 0.59 million tons, up 38% (noting greatly increased volumes from North America and gains also from the Middle East).

The net of the gains and declines for imports of LDPE/LLDPE and EAOC offset each other, indicating no change in volume. The small net decline in intra-regional trade and the increase in exports by about 100,000 tons indicated a long position.

From International Trader Publications’ World Trade Reports, available for all grades of polyethylene and updated daily with statistics from 80 countries.