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Chinese PBR makers to increase exports

Supply in high-cis polybutadiene rubber (PBR) in southeast Asia may be longer than expected this year, as deep-sea suppliers as well producers from China and India divert their surplus stocks to this region amid the slump in their respective auto markets.

Competition for market share in southeast Asia is expected to stiffen this year, with the Chinese PBR makers, the latest to join the growing tribe of suppliers from India, Russia, Europe, Iran and Saudi Arabia - on top of the traditional producers from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

“The Chinese PBR makers recently exported about 500-1,000 tonnes every month to southeast Asia and the export volumes are expected to increase further this year because of the growing demand from the Chinese tyre makers in this region,” a Chinese trader said.

Several major Chinese tyre makers have set up or shifted their production facilities to countries in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia due to the growing tensions in the US-China trade war.

Chinese PBR makers including Sinopec, PetroChina and Transfar, have capitalized on this recent development and diverted their surplus stocks to the Chinese tyre makers in southeast Asia.

China is the world’s largest automotive market and a major tyre producer and exporter. China-made tyres are exported worldwide including to the US, a major export market.

“The deep-sea PBR makers are exporting regularly to southeast Asia and the Indian PBR maker is also taking a more active role in this region,” another trader said.

The slump in the Chinese and Indian auto sectors, had weighed on domestic demand, prompting the Chinese and Indian PBR makers to seek other export markets.

China’s vehicles sales in November reached 2.46m units, down by 3.6% year on year, falling for the 17th consecutive month while production increased 3.8% to 2.59m units, industry data showed.

India’s vehicles sales in November declined by 12.05% year on year to 1.79m units, while production fell by 1.41% to 2.34m units, industry data showed

High-cis PBR is a key feedstock for the production of tyres for the automotive industry.

High-cis PBR spot prices softened to $1,380-1,450/tonne CFR (cost and freight) southeast (SE) Asia on 2 January, down by $10/tonne from 19 December 2019, ICIS data showed.

There was no ICIS publication on 26 December 2019 due to the Christmas holidays.