Tariffs frustrate US-China trade in plastic resins and finished products

Trade in polyethylene resin and finished products slowed in the fourth quarter of 2018, becoming a casualty of the US-China trade war. Last year, the Trump Administration launched a full-scale trade war with China, imposing three rounds of tariffs worth a cumulative $250 billion on Chinese products. The move was intended to counter China’s practice of requiring US companies to turn over intellectual property as a condition for gaining access to the world’s second-largest economy. China responded with $110 billion in tariffs on US products, also in three rounds, signaling a commitment to protecting its interests and economic growth. The petrochemical-heavy second and third rounds of these tariffs came as the US chemical industry started up the first wave of more than $200 billion in new and planned infrastructure. US gas boom drives petchems ramp-up This industrial build-up emerged from the domestic natural gas boom and its seemingly endless bounty of cheap feedstock, namely ethane. That feedstock advantage, shared only by the Middle East, prompted chemical producers to turn the US into a global supplier of raw materials and resins. Asia, and more specifically China, were the target markets, given the region’s projected demand growth that far surpasses the rest… continue reading

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