Post Chinese New Year national holidays, China's imports soared in March, with the volume of nearly every major commodity polymer, engineering polymer and organic chemical rising from February. Although China's imports generally pick up each March, the magnitude of the increases this year indicates continued strong demand for many products as per Jean Sudol of International Trader Publications Inc as reported by ICIS.
New records were set in March on imports of LLDPE-273,000 tons, LDPE-225,000 tons and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG), 689,000 tons. Imports of other products also were heavy, some near record levels: propylene, styrene, methanol, HDPE, EVA, polypropylene, propylene copolymers, ABS, SAN, polyacetals and polycarbonates.
For a number of products, percentage changes for Q1-2010 reflected both the continued strength in demand and low volumes early in 2009. The highest percentage gains for the quarter, between 50-125%, were on imports of polyacetals, polycarbonates, LDPE and propylene copolymers. Moderate gains, between 12-18%, were seen on imports of SAN, polypropylene, LLDPE, HDPE, styrene and MEG. Imports were up by 2-8% for EVA, ABS, propylene and DEG.
First quarter imports of a few products, however, were down sharply from last year. Year to date, imports were down by 19-87% for benzene, EDC, VCM, methanol and uncompounded PVC. Imports of each of these products had soared to record highs early in 2009, but volumes slowed markedly in the second half of last year and most continued relatively low into 2010. China's methanol imports were an exception, posting strong gains in both February and March of this year.