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Insight | Time:Jan 29 2018 5:51PM
Cotton linter import of China in 2017 ends with sharp decline
 
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Cotton linter import of China in 2017 witnesses "cliff-like" drop that is rarely seen in the past few years. The import volume of Dec declines by 70% year on year and the import for the whole year decreases by more than 50% on yearly basis.

Cotton linter import of China ends with sharp decline


According to customs data, China imports 4,942.6 tons of cotton linter in Dec, 2017, down 38.9% m-o-m and down 70.5% y-o-y. In 2017, cotton linter import of China totals 101.2kt, down 56.3% on yearly basis, with deeper decline than that of financial crisis in 2008. Main reasons are described as follows:

Bigger base of the same period


Cotton linter import of China kept growing in 2015 and 2016, especially historic high of 231.3kt in 2016. The import volume averages at 176.8kt during 2015-2017, still higher than the past decade (less than 150kt). Therefore, massive linters are waiting for absorption in 2017 and there is lower enthusiasm for import.

Higher import price


Cotton linter import of China skyrocketed in 2015-2016 and there are fewer foreign stocks on faster consumption in the meantime, so import price increased faster. In 2017, the unit price of imported cotton linter averaged at $602.8/mt, up $138.3/mt or almost 30% on yearly basis, hitting new highs since 2012. Risk aversion of market participants improved on higher import price and the enthusiasm for import weakened accordingly.

Qualitative change of consumption market under great pressure of environmental protection


China witnessed the strictest environmental storm in 2017, leading to shutdown of many cotton linter pulp mills, refined cotton plants as well as downstream cellulose ether and nitrocellulose companies, thus the demand for cotton linter decreased rapidly. In 2017, cotton linter consumption of China reduced notably by almost 20% while cotton linter output climbed up to 680kt. Coupled with 101.2kt of import, artificial linter production and beginning stocks, there was supply glut on the market.

Under the background of cotton waste import ban, fewer low-priced products and great pressure of environmental protection in 2018, cotton linter supply-demand relationship is hard to be reversed. Cotton linter import will depend on rigid demand and the volume is hard to have breakthrough.
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