Our local representatives in the methacrylates field together with our world-class business systems and global presence mean we’re in the best possible position to help our customers and industry partners understand the marketplace and its dynamics.

Here, Etsuko Kobayashi, Asia Monomers Senior Manager, shares her latest views and insight (as of October 2019).

Can you describe some of the changes in MMA demand in Asia recently and the factors that have caused this?

The US-China trade war has negatively affected chemicals and polymers demand in the whole of Asia, especially in certain industries like ABS (which is mainly used in home appliances). China has been steadily moving away from processing the world’s waste plastic, causing a switch in demand from recycled MMA to virgin MMA. It is estimated that this has resulted in an additional 100kt of demand for virgin MMA (there was +100kt in 2018 and there will be another +100kt in 2019).

The domestic market demand for MMA in China is also growing, especially for public sector investment in sound barrier sheet and environment-related industries like waterborne coatings.

Thus, although demand weakened in Q2, stronger demand has come back in Q3 which was beyond our expectations.

How would you describe the impact that the new MMA and MAA capacity added in the last 12 months has had on supply side dynamics in Asia?

WanHua (40KTa) started up at the end of 2018, and there are two other projects in China which are projected to start up in Q4 2019. These will cover the increasing demand in China of ~100kt/a which has been driven by the move from recycled to virgin MMA.

MMA and pMMA prices have fallen as a result of the new capacity, but the relatively lower price in China is leading to a bigger demand for MMA/pMMA (taking share from MS, PC etc.).

The demand in China in 2019 is estimated to be more than 850kt/a and becoming a solid foundation  for a consistent increase in MMA consumption. This is why although three new MMA producers came online in 2018 (Yidali, HuaYi, WanHua) there still is limited export from China.

MAA had been in short supply for sometime, and the new MAA capacity should cover the shortage and contribute to the MAA demand growth.

Can you explain how MCC is approaching this market and the plans that it has going forward?

MCC has a strong operating base in the Asian region, using three different technologies, and market-leading capacity globally. Though there are many geopolitical risks, we have the capacity to balance this and we will continue to strengthen the function of GS&OP to maintain a stable supply to our customers.