Due to the rapid development of domestic glycol market demand, domestic production cannot meet the demand, and the proportion of imported glycol consumption exceeds domestic production. According to customs statistics, in 2018, China imported 9.7896 million tons of glycol, an increase of 1.0385 million tons, or 11.9%. Glycol imports accounted for 59.6% of the total domestic supply. However, due to the rapid expansion of domestic production capacity and the rapid improvement of domestic supply capacity, the dependence of glycol on foreign countries has shown a downward trend.
China's expansion of ethylene glycol capacity, especially coal based capacity, is believed to be the culprit for the overall price decline of ethylene glycol in Asia since 2018. China is the world's largest importer of glycol, with an annual import volume of over 7 million tons since 2015.
With margins squeezed, some glycol producers in Asia and the Middle East have reduced the operating rate of glycol units, leading to a drop in Chinese glycol imports in September.
A trader in Asia said: "based on current glycol prices, major suppliers do not have very high profit margins. We can see from China's latest import data that producers are cutting production amid weak earnings. "
Domestic glycol imports are concentrated in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is the largest import source country, accounting for 41.58% of the total import volume; Taiwan, Canada, Singapore and Oman account for the second to fifth places, accounting for 10.07%, 9.27%, 7.69% and 7.44% respectively, and the top five regions account for 75% of the total import volume of China.