Petrochemical exports to China by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) continued to grow in 2014, despite the slowdown of the Chinese economy.

New data from the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) shows that GCC petrochemical exports to China increased to 13.5 million tons last year, up 5 percent compared with 2013. The value of these exports amounted to $15.4 billion, also up 5 percent year-on-year.

The GCC member countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia accounts for 64 percent of the GCC’s export volume to China, with a value of almost $10 billion. The United Arab Emirates is the GCC’s second largest exporter to China, responsible for 11 percent of the total volume or almost $2 billion, followed by Kuwait, which supplies 10 percent of total exports, valued at about $1.6 billion.

Overall, 65 percent of the export volume in 2014 consisted of basic, intermediate and chemicals exports. Polymers made up 33 percent and fertilizers 1 percent.

In a statement, GPCA Secretary-General Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun said it was “inevitable” that GCC producers would feel the effect of slowing Chinese demand for petrochemical products.

“China’s self-sufficiency in some petrochemicals and polymers is also increasing,” he noted. “But despite these challenges, GCC exports have continued to perform well and in the long run, there will still be substantial room for petchem imports to China.”

As an example, Chinese polypropylene (PP) production is expected to reach around 24 million tons by 2020, against consumption in the region of 28 million tons.