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The Impact of RCEP on The Petrochemical Industry

ECHEMI 2022-01-26

(1) The impact of RCEP on the petrochemical industry as a whole

1. Characteristics of petrochemical industry in RCEP member countries and trade with China


According to trade information provided by ASEAN, chemical products have become important trade products between China and major ASEAN countries. China and ASEAN are highly complementary in the chemical industry. China's imports from ASEAN are mainly primary raw chemical products, such as primary-shaped plastics, natural rubber and other chemical products. The chemical commodities that ASEAN countries import from China are mainly fertilizers, plastics and rubber products, pesticides, ethanol, phosphoric acid, etc.


In recent years, the demographic dividend of ASEAN countries has been continuously released, and the demand for petrochemical products has been increasing. In order to meet the demand, Southeast Asian countries represented by Singapore are rapidly gathering as new oil refining and chemical production centers. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are also strengthening their refining and chemical processing capabilities. At the same time, my country is also in southern China, such as Guangxi is actively deploying a large-scale petrochemical industry base facing the ASEAN market.


South Korea

South Korea is an export-oriented country with a strong petrochemical industry. The refining and chemical industries are highly developed. Its export products account for a relatively high proportion of the total industry production. It is one of the largest exporters of petroleum products in Asia. Its petrochemical industry is mainly dominated by large domestic groups in South Korea and has strong competitiveness. For naphtha, light cycle oil, etc., China mainly imports, and the main source country is South Korea.



The import and export of chemical products between Japan and China are highly complementary. China's chemical products imported from Japan are mainly high-end refining and chemical products, of which high-performance chemical products such as carbon fiber have the largest growth rate, while Japan's chemical products imported from China account for the largest proportion of basic chemical products such as plastics. Stronger than China in high-end refining and fine chemicals capabilities.

As Japan's domestic consumption of crude oil has shown a downward trend year by year, its refining industry has taken product exports as its main growth point in recent years. Feel the pressure of competition. In 2020, Sinopec exported PVA to Japan for the first time to break the local monopoly, which is also a favorable proof of Sinopec's production technology improvement.



Taking the 2019 data provided by OP Data as an example, Australia's main export products to China are mineral products, mainly metal ore, and the export volume of textiles and raw materials related to the petrochemical industry ranks third and grows rapidly. 2. The main commodities Australia imports from China are mechanical and electrical products, textiles, furniture and toys and other miscellaneous products, but plastic and rubber products are also imported, accounting for about 5% of total imports in 2019.


New Zealand

Taking the 2018 data provided by Zhanzhan Industry Research Institute as an example, New Zealand’s exports of Chinese chemical products accounted for a small proportion. In terms of imports, mainly textiles and raw materials, furniture, toys, miscellaneous products, etc., plastics and rubber also accounted for a certain proportion.


2. Prediction of the overall impact on China's petrochemical industry after RCEP takes effect

Taking into account the impact of the existing free trade agreements between China and RCEP member countries, some scholars have predicted the cumulative impact percentage of RCEP on specific industries in China during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period based on the Global Trade Analysis Model (GTAP) and related data research. . Among them, the domestic output of the petrochemical industry (mainly including coking products, petroleum, refined oil, etc., basic chemicals, other chemicals, rubber and plastic products) will be suppressed, with an impact ratio of -0.11%, while product imports and exports are expected to increase By 2.92% and 1.75% respectively.


According to the above data, it is not difficult to see that although RCEP has a positive impact on the import and export trade of products in the petrochemical industry, its promotion effect on exports is weaker than that on imports. At the same time, domestic output will be somewhat restrained in the next few years. We speculate that the main reasons for the above data are the following two aspects: On the one hand, the main domestic production products are low-tech petrochemical products, which are highly substitutable, and face the rising ASEAN countries in the next few years. The petrochemical industry will be affected to a certain extent; on the other hand, domestic enterprises still lack the production technology and production capacity of high-tech additional products. In addition, the main impact of RCEP on the current trade situation comes from Japan and South Korea, and Japan and South Korea have high exports. Technical content petrochemical products are good at. Therefore, in the next few years, the domestic petrochemical industry will face a more intense competitive environment.


(2) Impact on key varieties that may be affected

1. Petroleum products

According to the statistics provided by Longzhong Information, after the RCEP comes into effect, the products that may be more affected are mainly light cycle oil, base oil, asphalt and petroleum coke, while the less affected products are mainly crude oil, gasoline, diesel, Jet fuel, marine fuel, LNG and LPG.


For example, for base oil, since South Korea and Singapore account for 70% of the total imports, and South Korea and Singapore had import tariffs respectively, after the implementation of RCEP, the reduction of import tariffs will increase the supply of domestic imported base oil and reduce the price. It may also have a certain impact on the supply and operation of domestic base oil. For petroleum coke, due to lack of technology, my country has a large demand for needle-like petroleum coke imports. The largest source of imports is South Korea. The reduction of import tariffs will increase the import supply. For light cycle oil, it is 100% imported in my country. Since there were import tariffs on South Korea and Japan before, and South Korea is my country's main importer, this product may cause domestic supply to rise and prices to fall, which is good for downstream related products. Short-term effects of exports. However, for crude oil, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other products, because countries have implemented zero tariffs before RCEP takes effect, the impact of tariff reductions on these types of products is relatively low.


2. Chemical Products

According to the statistics of Yu Biying, a professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, the effect of RCEP on the chemical industry can be summarized into two points. Compared with the "China-Korea Free Trade Agreement", the reduction and exemption is larger, and China and Japan have reached a mutual tariff reduction and exemption agreement for related chemical products for the first time. Second, for chemical products that are highly dependent on foreign countries, my country has adopted a relatively conservative tariff policy, which will slow down the rapid rise in foreign dependence to a certain extent. For example, for olefins, my country only reduced tariffs to zero for Japan and South Korea in the 21st and 10th years after the agreement came into force; for polyethylene, paraxylene (PX), purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and ethylene glycol For chemicals such as alcohol, my country has not made a commitment to reduce or cancel tariffs on major trading countries such as Japan and South Korea. For Australia, it has adopted a longer tax reduction period or slightly lowered the tax rate and kept it unchanged.


In addition, there will be different impacts on domestic key products. For example, polyethylene has a large gap and has a certain degree of import dependence. Taking the data from January to September 2020 provided by Jinlianchuang as an example, the total import ratio to South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan is as high as 27%. Due to South Korea's advantageous geographical location, China's imports of polyethylene products from South Korea are expected to increase, and ASEAN countries will add more polyethylene production capacity in the future. The entry into force of the agreement will also stimulate the exports of these countries to China. For aromatic hydrocarbons, taking styrene as an example, my country is highly dependent on imports from RCEP member countries such as South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, etc. Taking the data provided by Jinlianchuang from January to September 2020 as an example, Japan ranks No. One accounts for 14% of total imports. After the RCEP comes into effect, the reduction of tariffs will greatly reduce the cost price, but it will also strengthen the degree of external dependence in the short term, which will have an impact on relevant domestic production enterprises.

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