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Chinese spare urea capacity of 20 million tpy + will look for export outlets in 2014

Posted On: 07-01-2014 By: Jon Raeside

The Government of China has set new export tariffs for fertilizer products which took effect on 1 January 2014, the country’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced in an official statement on Monday 16 December.

Export tariffs for fertilizer products will remain different for peak and off-peak seasons as in the current structure. The new urea export tariffs in the peak season in January-June and November-December will be at 15% plus yuan (CNY) 40/tonne (US$6.60/tonne), down significantly from the current level which is at 77%. “If China’s urea FOB is $350-450/t in peak seasons, China’s new export tax will be only $50-66/t, sharply down from a prohibitive $150-200/t in 2013” says Oliver Hatfield, Integer’s Director of Fertilizers. “This is one of many key factors we analyse in our latest Focus Report The Chinese urea industry: addressing the global impact which will be released in February 2014” Oliver adds.

The tariff for urea during the off-peak season in July-October will be at CNY40/tonne, according to the China’s government statement. “Chinese urea capacity has been in serious over-supply, about 30% more than domestic apparent consumption. New investments continue to take place which means more than 20 million tpy of urea capacity will look for outlets in international markets in 2014” says Oliver Hatfield.

The volume of urea exports in 2014 and beyond will play a significant role in determining international urea and nitrogen prices. The new tariff regime will potentially make the economics for exports look more attractive, potentially adding downside. However, much still depends on plant level economics, efficiency and geography. Integer’s new Focus Report The Chinese urea industry: addressing the global impact – currently under research by Integer’s Beijing office – will seek to reveal the key issues.

About 32 million tpy of urea capacity is energy integrated (owned by coal or gas companies), occupying about 45% of the total urea capacity. “Energy integrated urea capacity is the most competitive in international markets – and is one of the main factors we analyse in our Chinese urea industry focus report” Integer’s China nitrogen market expert Lynn Wang says.

Besides energy and raw materials, Integer’s Focus Report The Chinese urea industry: addressing the global impact also analyses a number of factors which will affect export supply, such as urea capacity geography and government policy orientation.

For example, urea capacity geography is a very important factor when we assess who will be the most competitive export candidates. Urea capacity from Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, which tend to have lower production cost than other provinces, will increase sharply – but these plants will mainly deliver to the domestic markets. Urea capacity in Hebei, Shandong and Shanxi provinces will tend to seek out export markets as they are much closer to sea ports. In 2012, about 3.8 million tonnes of urea were exported by sea ports of Shandong Provinces, occupying about 55% of the total urea export. Shanxi and Hebei are also the big contributors in the export volume of sea ports of Shandong province.