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US chemical exports to take bigger hit in US-China 2nd round

Aug. 24, 2018

The 2nd round of US and China tariffs, each comprising 25% on $16bn in imports and going into effect on 23 August, will hit US commodity chemical exports to China far harder, as the impact on comparable China exports to the US should be negligible.

However, the overall impact on high volume commodity chemical markets could be less than many anticipate, at least from this latest round. The 1st round of US and China tariffs of 25% on $34bn in imports excluded chemicals.

US commodity chemical products most impacted based on exports to China as a percentage of total production in 2017 are monoethylene glycol (MEG), styrene, EVA copolymers, linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), high density PE (HDPE), and ethylene dichloride (EDC) based on an analysis of select chemicals trade flows in the ICIS Supply and Demand Database.

“We estimate that China will account for 51% of global net HDPE and LLDPE net imports (imports minus exports) across the major deficit regions and countries in 2018-2025,” said Richardson in the ICIS Asian Chemical Connections Blog.

“This means that over the shorter term – this year and 2019 – China will have a similarly dominant role as the world’s biggest importer. It also means that it is mathematically impossible for the US to… comfortably place its big increases in production without exporting to China,” he added.


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