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EPCA 2018: Europe styrene traders reach out to Asian buyers as trade route heats up

London — European styrene traders are actively reaching out to Asian buyers as the Europe-Asia trade route for styrene becomes increasingly viable, market sources said on the sidelines of the EPCA conference.

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"We are contacting Asian buyers directly," a trader said, adding he has also been monitoring arbitrage spreads between both regions closely.

"We are not able to capture the arbitrage [window] every month, but whenever we can capture it, then good," the trader said.

In October, inventory levels in China were low, resulting in an increase in styrene imports into Asia -- mainly China -- from Europe, another trader said.

The arbitrage window opened on several occasions in the second half of the year, a trend set to continue with prices in Asia expected to remain higher, sources said.

This year, the appeal of European styrene in Asia has strengthened following anti-dumping duties on volumes going to China from the US, South Korea and Taiwan.

New trade routes have emerged, which has seen higher European exports to China, as well as an increase in European imports of US cargoes.

Europe has now become a large trading hub for styrene, with an increase in both export and import volumes, according to Eurostat data.

As contract negotiations for 2019 commence, there were more requests from customers looking to ship volumes to Asia.

--Olu Shaw,

--Edited by Dan Lalor,