China's ethanol imports surged to a 13-month high of 120,702 cu m in January, from 33 cu m in December, General Administration of Customs data released Monday showed.
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Chinese ethanol imports were last higher in December 2016 at 124,823 cu m, the data showed.
The country's ethanol imports in 2017 had been severely impacted by a 30% import duty on denatured ethanol that was imposed in January 2017.
Imports increased in January this year due to lower ethanol prices in the US during the fourth quarter of 2017, when January cargoes were booked, and the arbitrage was open to China despite the 30% import duty imposed on denatured ethanol, market sources said.
The Chicago Argo ethanol price assessed by S&P Global Platts averaged $1.5222/gal ($402.12/cu m) for the first three quarters of 2017, whereas the Q4 price averaged $1.3769/gal ($363.73/cu m), Platts data showed.
Out of the 91,287 cu m of total Chinese denatured ethanol imports in January, 91,283 cu m was imported from the US.
China imported a total of 29,415 cu m of undenatured ethanol in January, with almost all the imports from Pakistan at 29,405 cu m.
Meanwhile, Chinese ethanol exports fell by 911 cu m month on month to 2,862 cu m in January, the data showed. In January, all of China's exports were for undenatured ethanol, with 2,752 cu m exported to North Korea.