The region looks set to continue to play a significant role as supplier to the Asian giant
A booming manufacturing sector in China has kept consumption of petrochemicals at a high level with Gulf manufacturers supplying a substantial portion of its needs.
According to Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) figures, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region exported 39.5 million tonnes of chemicals to Asia in 2014 with China accounting for the largest share. Exports to China from the Gulf grew by an estimated 13 per cent annually over the last 10 years
Nearly 60 per cent of the Gulf’s petrochemicals went to Asia.
“Given their significant feedstock advantage, petrochemical and chemical producers from the GCC countries have established a strong foothold in China as their exports to this market have increased consistently over the past decade,” said Dr Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, GPCA secretary-general. “With US shale gas changing the global energy and petrochemical landscape, the relationship between the GCC and China is ever more important.”
China is the world’s biggest chemical market, and is still growing at double-digit rates, faster than the country’s GDP. Last year, China’s chemical industry was valued at $1.31 trillion. It imported 5.52 million tonnes of polyethylene resins (PE) in the first seven months of this year, up14.6 per cent. Its polypropylene resins (PP) imports totalled 2.98 million tonnes during the same period, up 7.68 per cent.
“This is a clear signal that China has an unquenchable thirst for consumer-grade plastic – a demand that can be ably filled by GCC producers over the next few years,” continued Dr Al Sadoun.
According to data from China’s national customs agencies, China imported 3.01 million tonnes of PE from GCC countries in 2013, which accounted for 34 per cent of the country’s total PE imports that year. China imported 1.18 million tonnes of PP that year, with GCC material accounting for 24 per cent. According to the GPCA, more PE and PP volumes are expected to flow from the GCC to China going forward in view of new plants scheduled to come on stream in the GCC region over the next few years.