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US PE scrap exports down 36% in Jan-Apr on China ban; surge to Thailand

HOUSTON, June 7, 2018 (PCW) -- US exports of PE scrap, the largest of five plastic scrap import/export categories tracked by the US government, were down by 93,596 metric tons or 36% in Jan-Apr from Jan-Apr 2017, the latest US Commerce Department data show.

All US PE scrap exports in Jan-Apr 2018 totaled 164,046 mt valued at $68,044,991.

The main reason for the drop is the familiar story of China's ban on certain scrap and rubbish through its Operation Sword program started last fall. In the case of PE scrap, exports have plunged by 95% in the first four months of 2018: PE scrap exports to China in Jan-Apr totaled just 6,041 mt, down from 125,505 mt in Jan-Apr 2017.

Exports to Hong Kong are also affected by the ban as the autonomous territory is a transfer point for imports en route to mainland China. PE scrap exports to Hong Kong in Jan-Apr 2018 totaled 9,412 mt, down 83% from the year-earlier period. China and Hong together accounted for 70% of all US PE scrap exports in Jan-Apr 2017.

At the same time, exports to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Turkey have surged this year. PE scrap exports to Thailand, for instance, totaled 20,420 mt in Jan-Apr 2018, up from 484 mt in Jan-Apr 2017, while exports to Turkey totaled 2,589 mt, up from 681 mt in the respective periods. -- Xavier A Cronin

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