This trend in trade continues to reflect poor market conditions in Europe and globally.
EU27 styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) trade volumes from January to April decreased between 2019 and 2020, according to recent trade data from Eurostat.
There are several drivers that are likely to have caused this trend.
The main one is the recent difference in prices between the two regions.
The Asian market has been one step ahead due to the progress of the coronavirus. As it has recovered faster, a price gap has opened.
However, despite this gap in prices imports have not completely disappeared. They have just been less competitive lately and resulted in lower volumes shipped to Europe.
The volumes to Europe have fallen also because of logistic issues.
Many players are still noticing some difficulties. This most certainly has pushed buyers to rely more on domestic supply sources. The extent of this is unknown, but is certainly another element that has contributed to a slowdown in overall trade.
And finally, another factor that has likely contributed to a slowdown in imports is the lower demand in Europe.
However, while many drivers have led to a fall in trade volumes lately, this trend could ease or even revert in the next few months.
This trend could ease or even revert.
For example, demand is increasing in Europe, albeit at a slow pace. Nevertheless, this could attract more imports.
What’s more, higher prices could attract additional imports. European prices in the last couple of months have gained ground and look set to continue to do so for the rest of the summer.
The recent movement in exchange rates could also help increase imports from Asia to Europe.
The Euro has gained ground against the US dollar in the past few months, and this will certainly make imports more attractive, especially now that prices in Europe are on the way up.
On balance, however, while some market developments will ease the pressure on trade, overall volumes will probably remain smaller than a year ago, which will reflect a weaker SAN global demand in 2020.