According to data from Chinese Customs, the country’s total polymer imports slumped in April to the lowest level seen since the beginning of 2012. Overall April imports fell by 21% when compared with the previous month to 1,102,000 tons while they were down by 7% when compared to the same period of last year, as per ChemOrbis. Total imports to China had retreated in March too; however, the decrease was sharper in April. This slowdown in imports to China can be explained by the softening sentiment in the polymer markets throughout April. After Chinese players returned to their desks from a week long holiday in the second week of April, the firming trend that was in place across the board since the beginning of the year started to falter as discouraging demand moved to the forefront. Accordingly, buyers were less willing to engage in import purchases while most found local offers more competitive.
China’s imports for homo PP dropped by 23% month over month in April to 258,000 tons. This followed a monthly drop of 12% in March. The five main homo PP exporters to China in April were South Korea (56,185 tons), Saudi Arabia (51,413 tons), Taiwan (28,457 tons), the United Arab Emirates (22,224 tons) and Singapore (18,866 tons). The March list for the top homo PP exporters to China was the same except for the fact that the first two suppliers changed places as homo PP imports from Saudi Arabia marked a more considerable decline of 34% on the month with respect to that of other origins. In the PE market, LLDPE imports witnessed the largest decreases in April while HDPE and LDPE posted relatively smaller drops. Overall LLDPE imports to China fell by 31% from March and 21% from the same period of last year to 151,000 tons. The main import sources of LLDPE in March were Saudi Arabia (42,438 tons), Thailand (23,286 tons) and Singapore (17,834 tons) while imports from these countries registered 40-50% monthly decreases. For HDPE, April imports registered a monthly loss of 17% and came down to 261,000 tons in total with the leading exporters to China listed as Saudi Arabia (42,311 tons), South Korea (40,648 tons) and United Arab Emirates (40,884 tons). While HDPE imports from Saudi Arabia and South Korea slumped respectively by 30% and 23%, UAE raised its exports to China by 15% when compared to March. In the case of LDPE, imports fell by 11% month over month to 109,000 tons with Iran overtaking other suppliers with 31,024 tons. Iran also raised its LDPE imports to China by almost five times when compared to March. It was followed by South Korea with 11,834 tons, recording a 36% decrease month over month. Overall PVC imports to China declined 30% month over month and 15% year over year in April to 71,000 tons. The top PVC exporters were US (26,209 tons), Taiwan (22,602 tons) and Japan (15,607 tons). PVC imports from the US were noticeably down by 65% from March whereas imports from Japan moved up by 12% month over month, says ChemOrbis. In the PS market, imports dropped 15% month over month and 12% year over year in April to reach 73,000 tons. The leading exporters to China were Taiwan (26,242 tons), Hong Kong (15,225 tons) and South Korea (13,635 tons) with imports from all three sources falling by 9-14% from March.