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EPCA 2018: Buyers of EU-origin-specific styrene in Europe may face growing competition from Asia

Vienna — European consumers who require Europe-origin styrene monomer may face increased competition for product in the region, especially considering demand from China following anti-dumping duties on some supplies, market sources told Platts on the sidelines of the annual EPCA conference in Vienna this week.

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However, this is unlikely to have a significant impact on contracts yet.

The position of "sellers of European material has improved," a source at a producer said earlier, adding that there were more requests from customers looking to ship volumes to Asia.

However, a trader noted that while competition for European-origin material has increased, some consumers who require origin-specific material already have good relationships with local suppliers who are likely to continue supplying these volumes.

Another source noted that origin-specific requirements also make up a small portion of the total volumes they supplied. Currently, this requirement does not command a premium, he said.

Typically, term contract negotiations start close to the annual EPCA meeting in early October, and settle for the following year by the end of November.

In recent times, the draw of European styrene in Asia has strengthened, following anti-dumping duties on volumes going to China from the US, Taiwan and South Korea.

The price spread between Europe and Asia styrene has been volatile in 2018, with the arbitrage window open on multiple instances in the second half of the year.

--Ng Baoying,

--Edited by Maurice Geller,