DMT Market and Trade Overview
Introduction to DMT Market
Dimethyl Terephthalate (DMT) is a colorless liquid when heated, or else an odorless, white solid. It is a diester synthesized through the reaction of p-xylene, methanol, and air with the aid of a catalyst. Its chemical formula is CH(COOCH) or CHO. DMT is predominantly utilized in the production of polymer melts of PET, which, in turn, finds application in the manufacturing of polyester resins, fibers, and industrial plastics. Additionally, it is combined with butanediol to create PBT, further processed to manufacture staple fibers, films, foils, and continuous filaments. DMT plays a crucial role in enhancing and modifying polymer materials, serving as a fundamental component in the production of video and X-ray films, as well as thermoplastics. Key manufacturers in the DMT market include Indorama (INVISTA), Eastman Corporation, SASA, Fiber Intermediate Products, and JSC Mogilevkhimvolokno.
Traditionally, DMT served as a widely utilized raw material for the production of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate). However, over time, PTA emerged as the preferred raw material for manufacturing both PET and PBT. This shift occurred because the production costs associated with DMT are higher compared to those with TPA. As a result of this cost efficiency, the DMT market has experienced a continuous contraction, with the majority of polyester production now favoring the use of TPA (thermoplastic polyamide elastomers). The economic advantages associated with TPA have driven a significant portion of the industry towards this alternative. Consequently, some applications that still rely on DMT are actively exploring and adopting alternative materials.
Amidst this evolving landscape, a diminishing number of manufacturers globally continue to operate with DMT processing systems, mainly for external supply. However, given the industry-wide transition to TPA, the DMT market is anticipated to witness a marginal decline during the forecast period.
DMT Trade By Region
North America DMT Trade
The United States serves as a net importer of DMT, with its DMT imports reaching 2 kilo tons in 2022, reflecting a notable increase of 90% compared 2020. Approximately half of these imported shipments originated from Turkey, indicating a significant trade relationship. Additionally, South Korea and Germany emerged as other significant trade partners in the DMT market for the United States. Turkey has been a major DMT exporter to United States, contributing to more than 50% of the total DMT imports into the country.
Canada is the second biggest importer of DMT in North America, with over 90% imports originating from the United States. In contrast, Mexico imports very small quantity of DMT each year with the United States and South Korea being major trade partners.
Western Europe DMT Trade
Germany has maintained its status as a significant exporter of DMT, registering total exports of 86.8 kilo tons in 2022 a substantial decline of around 14 kilo tons, compared to the previous year. While Germany supplies DMT to various countries, Luxembourg and the Netherlands stand out as the primary recipients, receiving the majority of exports. Other major trade partners for Germany in the DMT market include France and Italy. Traditionally, Germany's DMT exports were primarily derived from the lone producer in the country, Oxxynova GmbH's plant in Lülsdorf. However, a significant development occurred in December 2022 when Oxxynova announced the cessation of production at the plant by the end of the year due to escalating electricity and gas prices. Consequently, with the 240 kilo tons per annum plant shut down and no alternative domestic suppliers, Germany is anticipated to transition back to being a net importer of DMT during the forecast period. Moreover, there is a likelihood of a shift towards the use of the DMT competitor purified terephthalic acid (PTA).
Germany DMT Exports, By Country - 2022 (Kilo Tons)
Source: UN Comtrade & Prismane Consulting Estimates
France stands as an importer of DMT, with import volumes reaching 7 kilo tons in 2022. Over 90% of these imports are sourced from Germany, with Turkey contributing to the remainder. Additionally, smaller volumes are procured from Austria. Italy also falls into the category of DMT importers, with 7.4 kilo tons imported in 2022, predominantly sourced from Germany, mirroring the import dynamics observed in France.
Luxembourg and the Netherlands emerge as the prominent importers of DMT in the Western Europe region, with nearly all of their DMT supplies originating from Germany.
Central & Eastern Europe DMT Trade
Turkey is the biggest exporter of DMT in the Central & Eastern Europe. In 2022, it exported 19 kilo tons of supplies. While the country exports its supplies to various countries, China is its biggest trade partner. Other notable partners include France, Japan, Spain, Germany, and USA. SASA is the sole DMT producer in the country, operating its plant at Adana. It is the largest DMT plant in the world, with a production capacity of 280 kilo tons/annum. Majority of the supplies produced at the plant are used captively by the company to manufacture other products, while the remaining supplies are sold in solid form to domestic and international customers. The product is shipped in big bags in the form of flakes or briquettes.
Asia Pacific DMT Trade
With import volumes totaling 39.2 kilo tons in 2022, China is a net importer of DMT shipments. Imports are primarily bought from South Korea, followed by Turkey and Germany. Japan is also a net importer, with total imports equaling 24.8 kilo tons in 2022. Like China, the country also majorly imports supplies from South Korea, followed by Turkey. India and Taiwan are other countries that rely on South Korean and Turkish supplies.
China DMT Imports, By Country - 2022 (Kilo Tons)
Source: UN Comtrade & Prismane Consulting Estimates
South Korea is the largest exporter of DMT in Asia Pacific. With export volumes of 44 kilo tons in 2022, the country sources DMT supplies to its neighbouring Asian countries. Japan and China collectively make up of more than 90% of the country’s exports. With ample supply, the country is expected to continue being a major exporter of DMT supplies during the forecast period.
Central & South America DMT Trade
Central & South America is net importer of DMT. Brazil is the biggest importer in the region. Countries in the region mainly buy shipments from South Korea and Turkey.
Middle East & Africa DMT Trade
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the major importers of DMT in Middle East & Africa. While Saudi Arabia imports its shipments from China, Egypt relies on supplies from South Korea.
Fluctuation in Raw Material prices can hamper the growth of DMT
Fluctuations in crude prices will thus have an immediate impact on paraxylene prices, which will in turn affect DMT market.DMT is made from paraxylene, which is a derivative of Naphtha. Volatility in raw material prices is thus a restraining factor for the DMT market.
Given the current focus on circular economy approach being implemented by numerous manufacturers, the development of biobased DMT is a major opportunity for the growth of DMT market during the forecast.