The pandemic has disrupted many patterns in 2020, including European trade.
Spain increased exports of ABS to China in 2020, consistently exporting higher volumes from March to August compared to 2019.
The latest Eurostat data on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) reflects the higher level of activity in China compared to Europe.
If this trend continues at the same pace, the European ABS market will continue to get tighter.
The divergent economic dynamics between China and Europe this year have created a severe shortage of ABS supply in Europe.
While Asian ABS imports in Europe have disappeared, it seems exports to the region have also increased.
And in November, there is little to suggest that the European ABS market is about to normalize.
However, it is important to note that Spain’s exports to China were the highest during a period of very low demand in Europe.
China compared to Europe has been rallying, pushing ABS prices up in the region to above $2000/mt. This price is substantially higher than in Europe.
However, now that demand has increased in Europe, exports should slow down.
In fact, in August, when demand in Europe picked up, volumes from Spain to China started to go down.
Meanwhile, the major producer of ABS in Spain is ELIX Polymers, with a 170,000 metric tons of capacity in Tarragona. A Chinese company, Sinochem, bought the company in 2019.
The coronavirus outbreak has certainly disrupted many patterns of activity in Europe, and that includes ABS trade.