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Watch: Tighter banking policy hits India's polymer demand

The Reserved Bank of India has tightened trade financing on imports earlier in March. In this video, Fumiko Dobashi, S&P Global Platts senior editor for petrochemicals, examines how this move has affected the country's demand for key polymers such as PVC, polypropylene and polyethylene.

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Video Transcript

Tighter banking policy hits India's polymer demand

By Fumiko Dobashi, Senior Editor, Petrochemicals

Welcome to the Snapshot, an S&P Global Platts series examining the forces shaping and driving commodity markets today.

In this episode, let’s take a look at how the Asian polymers market has been affected by India’s move to tighten its bank lending policy.

India’s buying appetite for polymers, especially PVC, is typically strong in the first quarter. This is when end-users and traders buy import materials to build inventories ahead of rainy monsoon season, which usually starts around June and July.

Because of a peak demand season, a major Asian PVC producer increased its offer for April by $20/mt from March to $1,040/mt CFR India last week. For last few months, the producer sold out its monthly requirements within one day because of strong demand. But for April, the business landscape is different. End-users and traders were reluctant to accept the fresh offer level.

It became increasingly difficult for end-users and traders in India to buy import materials. On March 13, following a major banking fraud case, the Reserve Bank of India barred banks from issuing letters of undertaking or letters of comfort for trade credit for imports into India.

Among the key polymers products – polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC -- PVC felt the greatest impact from the tighter lending policy as India is highly dependent on imports.

Market sources say India's PVC deficit is estimated at 1.5 million mt/year.

In comparison, polyethylene and polypropylene are less affected due to lower exposure to imports.

According to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, India's PE deficit in 2018 is estimated at 221,000 mt, while PP surplus for 2018 is estimated at 214,000 mt.

India's import demand for PVC has since dried up and prices have fallen sharply to a two-month low of $1,000/mt CFR India on March 28, S&P Global Platts data showed.

As for PE and PP, Indian buyers have kept to the sidelines recently, as they prefer to keep minimum inventories ahead of end-March financial closure.

Film-grade high density PE was assessed stable at $1,360/mt CFR South Asia on March 28, while PP raffia fell $10/mt to be assessed at $1,300/mt.

Market sources said PVC producers need to reduce their offer further to below $1,000/mt CFR India to sell a big volume for April.

Until next time on the Snapshot, we’ll keep an eye on the markets.