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Insight | Time:May 4 2018 5:01PM
Faster shuffling of cotton linter import market
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Given the impact of cotton waste import ban and restriction of dreary Chinese market, cotton linter import market has witnessed big volatility since the beginning of this year. The volume is generally slumping, coupled with great changes of origins and unit price.

Given solid waste import ban (including cotton waste and spinning scrapes) taking effect since Jan 1st, 2018 as well as still intense pressure of environmental protection, cotton linter pulp mills and refined cotton plants are largely running with low operating rates, exerting significant impact on cotton linter import market.

According to customs data, China imports 3,611.7 tons of cotton linter in Mar, hiking 101.2% m-o-m, but down 70.2% on yearly basis. The import volume in the first quarter totals 8,976.4 tons, shedding 77.7% y-o-y, which is just 22% of that in Q1, 2017. The import of Mar is almost equivalent to that of Jan, which can just meet rigid demand.

Fast reduction of import volume also results in big changes of origins. Origins of import cotton linter reduced to 19 in 2017 from 25 in 2016, but further decreased to 8 in the first quarter of 2018. Turkey instead of India has become the largest origin and US still ranks the second place.

In Mar, China imports 1,359.14 tons of cotton linter from Turkey, taking up 37.6% of total. The import from US occupies 22%, totaling 793.54 tons. Meanwhile, there are linters from Turkmenistan and India in Mar. In the first quarter of 2018, China imports 3,635.02 tons of cotton linter from Turkey and 2,027.26 tons from US, respectively taking up 40.5% and 22.6% of total. The import from India and Turkmenistan respectively occupies 17.44% and 8.75% of total.

The import price remains high on industry concentration and rising import threshold as well as higher quality. The import price in Mar averages at $586.2/mt, down 5.75% y-o-y. In the first quarter, the price averages at $591.65/mt, down 4.18% y-o-y, but the reduction of import price is much lower than that of import volume.

The destinations in China have sped up shuffling with drastic change of import volume. In 2017, the major destinations are Weifang and Qingdao of Shandong, Chaoyang district of Beijing, Suzhou of Anhui, Yueyang of Hunan and Shihezi of Xinjiang. However, the import to Weifang takes up as high as 73.1% in the first quarter of 2018. Although Suzhou of Anhui, Yancheng of Jiangsu and Dongcheng district of Beijing also imports cotton linter, the percentage for each one is less than 10% of total.

Cotton linter is expected to be imported amid rigid demand this year, which is hard to see substantial change. Turkey and US are the largest origins of China’s imported cotton linter while the import from India and Central Asia has decreased evidently. More cotton linter pulp mills, refined cotton and cellulose ether producers are located in Shandong, so Shandong province (especially Weifang) will be the major destination.
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