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China's ethanol imports in March surge 79% on month

Singapore — Chinese ethanol imports jumped 78.9% month on month to 7,389 cu m in March from 4,130 cu m in February with undenatured imports climbing, offsetting the decline in denatured imports, latest customs data showed.

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The sharp increase in ethanol imports stemmed from a low base in February. On a year-on-year basis, the ethanol imports had plunged 95.8% from 176,468 cu m in March 2018.

Denatured ethanol shipments to China fell 12.31% month on month to 3,619 cu m in March and was significantly lower than the 144,122 cu m seen in March 2018 which came into the country before the tension broke out between China and the US in April 2018, which eventually saw a tariff of 70% imposed on US ethanol imports.

A total of 3,619 cu m of denatured ethanol was seen from South Africa, higher than the 1,138 cu m of denatured ethanol cargoes recorded in February. No cargoes were seen from Sudan unlike last month whereby 2,987 cu m was recorded from the country.

Meanwhile, 3,769 cu m of undentured ethanol passed Chinese customs in March, up from 2 cu m, in February according to the data. Pakistan supplied 3,704 cu m up from zero volume the month before. Nonetheless, undenatured imports were down from 32,345 cu m in March 2018.

"Looking forward, China domestic fuel ethanol prices are expected to soften a little," a trader said.

On the exports front, China exported 2,122 cu m of undenatured ethanol in March versus 827cu m of undenatured ethanol in February.

-- Donavan Lim, d.lim@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Elizabeth Thang, newsdesk@spglobal.com