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AnalysisSSESSMENTS: China's Polyethylene (PE) Imports Drop in Q1 2023, Iran Loses Market Share To US


According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) seen by SSESSMENTS.COM, China imported less polyethylene (PE) in the first quarter of 2023 than in the same period last year. The data from NBS shows that China’s PE imports fell by 8.82% year-on-year in the first three months of 2023. The imports dropped by 9.40% in January 2023, from 1,135,127 tons to 1,028,462 tons. The imports bounced back slightly in February 2023, rising by 3.39% to 1,119,505 tons. However, the imports plunged again in March 2023, falling by 18.12% to 1,107,232 tons. The data also reveals the monthly changes in imports. The imports declined by 5.84% from December 2022 to January 2023. The imports increased by 8.85% from January to February 2023 but then decreased slightly by -1.10% from February to March 2023. China’s quarterly PE import volume was down 6.98% from 3,499,412 tons in Q4 2022.

Market sources informed SSESSMENTS.COM that the market expected China’s PE demand to rebound strongly after the Lunar New Year holiday as COVID-19 restrictions eased. At the time, buyers speculated and stocked up more PE to meet the anticipated demand surge. However, the demand did not pick up as expected until the end of the quarter.

The data from NBS shows that Saudi Arabia was the top PE supplier to China in Q1 2023, but its sales and share dropped from Q1 2022. Saudi Arabia supplied 689,780 tons of PE to China, taking 21.19% of China’s PE imports. In Q1 2022, Saudi Arabia sold 766,908 tons and accounted for a 21.48% share. The United States was the second largest supplier in Q1 2023, boosting its sales and share significantly from Q1 2022. The US sold 515,805 tons of PE to China, grabbing 15.85% of the PE market share in China. A year earlier, the US sold only 173,076 tons and had a 4.85% share, showing a year-on-year jump of 198%.

Market sources informed SSESSMENTS.COM that US cargoes were more popular because they had better availability than Middle Eastern cargoes. Arranging shipments were also easier for US cargoes, with competitive freight cost. The US took the second spot from Iran, which descended to fourth place with 338,241 tons and a market share of 10.39%. A year earlier, Iran supplied 530,670 tons of PE to China, accounting for 14.86% of the total imports.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates remained the third largest supplier in Q1 2023, but its sales and share dropped from Q1 2022. The UAE sold 400,798 tons of PE to China, taking 12.31% of the market. In Q1 2022, the UAE supplied 517,984 tons and had a 14.51% share. South Korea descended to fifth place, with 245,034 tons and a 7.53% share. A year earlier, South Korea was the fourth-largest supplier with 388,726 tons and a 10.89% share.

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Published on May 10, 2023 12:17 PM (GMT+8)
Last Updated on May 10, 2023 3:43 PM (GMT+8)