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US LDPE becomes latest target in tit-for-tat tariffs

by Cansu Koca - ckoca@chemorbis.com
by Beyza Solakoglu - bsolakoglu@chemorbis.com
  • 23/10/2019 (11:37)
The trade war, which had previously seemed to be on the brink of softening, escalated to new levels after the US administration increased tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese imports by 5% in a tit-for-tat response to China’s retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of US goods.

With this new round of tariffs announced by China, the US LDPE has become the latest target in the widening trade war.

US HDPE and LLDPE already flooded to markets other than China

US LDPE was exempted from the tariffs China imposed in August last year, while the duties on HDPE and LLDPE imports from the US have been in place since then. The 25% duties imposed on US HDPE and LLDPE forced US sellers to divert their cargoes from China to other export markets.

China’s HDPE, LLDPE imports from US plummeted in H1

In the January-July period, China’s HDPE imports from the US plunged by more than 80% to a mere 38,256 tons from 199,599 tons recorded during the corresponding period of 2018. During the same period, LLDPE imports from the US declined from 133,099 tons to just 55,917 tons, indicating a steep drop of around 58% year-on-year.

Turkey’s H1 HDPE imports from US tripled, Italy doubled

Another example of the changes caused by the %25 tariffs was the substantial increase in HDPE shipments from the US to Turkey during the first six months of the year. According to ChemOrbis imports data, US HDPE imports in the first six months of 2019 almost tripled the amount recorded in all of 2018.

Italy draws a similar picture as HDPE imports from the US in H1 this year more than doubled the amount recorded in all of last year.

US was enjoying growing sales for LDPE to China

At the same time, ChemOrbis data showed that the US became a key supplier of LDPE to China after the tariffs, with shipments increasing by almost 60,000 tons, or around 45% in the first six months of 2019. The January-July data also showed that the LDPE shipments to China stood 15% higher than the 143,169 tons exported in all of 2018.

US LDPE is now poised to face an uphill battle

Given the reduction of US imports of HDPE and LLDPE to China following the tariffs imposed last year, it is not hard to imagine that the US producers will begin seeking new destinations for LDPE shipments to make up for a possible dip in market share in China.

You can find a timeline of major developments for 2019 below (in reverse chronological order):

China reveals list of US goods set to be subject to additional tariffs

Trade war deepens as Trump hits back at China with more tariffs

China slaps retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion US goods

US postpones new tariffs on certain Chinese imports

US announces new tariffs on Chinese goods as trade talks halt

US-China trade talks back on track

China retaliates with tariff hikes on $60 billion of US goods

US tariff hikes on $200 billion Chinese goods come into effect

US-China talks interrupted as Trump threatens to ramp up tariffs

Trade talks to resume as US officials push to close deal with China

US confirms decision to delay tariff increases on China

US postpones deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese good
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