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China’s chemical trade with Russia

Within the last few years, Chinese chemical exports to North America and Europe have grown under pressure, but exports with Russia and ASEAN are growing rapidly. According to customs statistics, in the first quarter of 2023, bilateral trade between China and Russia grew by 50.1% year-on-year, and total trade with ASEAN grew by 16.1% year-on-year. This is a precursor to further expansion of China’s trade with Russia and ASEAN, and huge growth is expected in the future of China-Russia trade in chemicals.

In June 2022, the Heihe Bridge was opened to traffic, the full name of the bridge is the Sino-Russian Heihe-Bragoveshchensk Border River Highway Bridge, is the first Russian-Chinese border road bridge across the Heilongjiang River (Amur River), connecting the Chinese city of Heihe and the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk, the total length of the road 19.9 kilometers, of which 6.5 kilometers in the Chinese territory, the Russian territory The total length of the road is 19.9 kilometers, of which 6.5 kilometers on the Chinese side and 13.4 kilometers on the Russian side. The Heihe Bridge was signed with Russia in 1995 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and construction did not start until 2016. 2019, the bridge was completed, but not put into use. It will not be officially opened to traffic until June 2022. Because Russia is not in a hurry for the use of the bridge, it has been dragging its feet and has not been put into use. Until after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, for the construction and use of the bridge suddenly speed up. Pingtou believes that the probability is that Russia in the face of European and North American isolation, the premise of the urgent need to develop new economic arteries, looking at the location of Russia, only through land car transport instead of sea transport, and China to increase product trade, to achieve economic integration between Russia and China, is the new driving force of Russia’s economic development.

The commissioning of the Heihe Bridge is only the beginning of the incremental increase in trade between China and Russia, which will be followed by a greater incremental economic development, among which the trade in chemicals with Russia is the key to make up for the lack of supply of raw materials for China’s chemical industry and the lack of a deep refinement rate in the Russian chemical industry chain. In the future, the chemical trade between China and Russia will rapidly increase on this basis. What are the current varieties and types of chemical products trade between China and Russia?

First, in terms of export market, China exported the largest scale of PTA products to Russia, the scale of China’s PTA exports to Russia reached 290,000 tons in 2021 and around 230,000 tons in 2022. Throughout the past years, China exported more than 200,000 tons of PTA to Russia every year.PTA is the main raw material for polyester, which is produced from PX and glacial acetic acid.China exported 250,000 tons of PTA to Russia in 2022, accounting for 7.3% of China’s total PTA exports, which is the largest exporter of Chinese PTA products. The Russian PTA industry is small in scale, with only 3 sets of units, which cannot meet the needs of downstream polyester, and there is a large amount of imports from neighboring countries. And China’s PTA industry is huge, with several years of polyester industry contradictions escalation, resulting in polyester competitive environment, polyester start-up rate reduced, also caused more PTA products surplus for export.

Secondly, the export market, China’s exports to Russia of polyester chips scale more than 200,000 tons, accounting for about 28% of the total export scale of China’s polyester chips, is China’s largest export country. Russia’s polyester industry is relatively small, there is a large supply gap, mainly through China and Europe to supplement. China’s exports to Russia’s polyester products, mainly sliced products, in Russia to fiber, containers, packaging materials, film, film, engineering plastics and other applications.

Thirdly, among the chemical products exported from China to Russia, large-scale products include kerosene, PVC, polyethylene glycol, oil additives, coal pitch, MDI, melamine, polyester staple fiber, polyester filament, ethylene tar, EVA, TDI, caustic soda, polyester polyol, TMP, etc. These chemicals, all of which have a local supply gap in Russia, need to be supplemented by neighboring countries.

Fourth, in terms of the import market, crude oil is the largest product among China’s chemical imports from Russia, with China importing 86.26 million tons from Russia in 2022 and 79.42 million tons in 2021, and the scale of China’s crude oil imports from Russia has shown an increasing trend year by year in the past few years.

According to IEA data, Russian crude oil production in 2022 will be 10.3 million barrels per day, and crude oil production has shown rapid growth in the past few years. 242 million tons of Russian crude oil will be exported in 2022, of which 86.26 million tons will be exported to China, accounting for 36% of the total, and it can be said that China is the largest exporter of Russian crude oil, and China carries more than one-third of Russia’s crude oil The scale of crude oil trade between China and Russia is still growing.

Fifth, in terms of import markets, China imports the largest volume of compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas from Russia. 2022 China imports more than 7.54 million tons of compressed natural gas and more than 4.52 million tons of liquefied natural gas from Russia, the total volume of natural gas exceeds 12 million tons. Russia will extract 412.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2022 and export 33 million tons of LNG in 2022, of which 14% will be exported to China, which is the largest consumer of Russian gas after Europe.

Sixth, for China’s chemical imports from Russia, marine fuel oil, petroleum coke, naphtha, PE pipe, PE recycled material, butyl rubber, caprolactam, propane, propylene, isoprene rubber, butyl alcohol, butadiene rubber, PP powder, alkylated oil, diluted asphalt, parabellum, polyethylene glycol, nitrile rubber, parabellum, high olefin C4, these products are the larger scale volume of China’s chemical imports from Russia.

From the characteristics of these products, on the one hand, most of the chemicals imported by China from Russia are energy products, basic raw material products, or bulk chemicals mainly in the front end of the chemical industry chain, such as diluted bitumen, naphtha, propane, propylene, high olefin C4, etc. The nature of these products is more on the properties of chemical raw materials; on the second hand, basic polymer material products, such as rubber products, polyethylene and polypropylene products, as well as regenerated polyolefin products, etc., all of which are imported from Russia as chemicals of larger scale, such products are data of basic polymer material products, and the chemical industry chain in which they are located is not long, and from this aspect it can also be seen that the rate of refinement of chemicals in Russia is not high.

China’s chemical trade with Russia will rapidly increase the depth and breadth of its cooperation under the premise of Russia’s expansion of new economic arteries. The chemicals needed by Russia, such as fine chemicals and polymer material products, may show rapid growth, while China’s chemical imports from Russia will remain mainly energy products and products with raw material properties.

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