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Washington, Beijing trade dispute escalation spooks markets; analysts expect little change in crude flow from US to China

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Watch: Washington, Beijing trade dispute escalation spooks markets; analysts expect little change in crude flow from US to China

On S&P Global Platts Market Movers in Asia this week, Asia LNG Content Lead Abache Abreu tackles the impact of the US-China trade dispute escalation on crude oil trade, potential export delays for Japanese refiners, and sales opportunities ahead of a refinery shutdown in Indonesia. The upcoming Platts Gas Asia Markets Conference in Singapore also comes in to focus amid high LNG inventories and evolving trading patterns.

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New horizons: The forces shaping the future of the LNG market

As significant additions of elastic LNG supply and demand challenge traditional business models, and the trend towards LNG commoditization gathers pace, what lies ahead?

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This week: Japanese refiners brace for export delays, Indonesia readies to step up gasoline imports, and LNG traders gather at Platts Asia LNG Conference.

But first, market participants will be closely watching Asian markets Monday following the latest tit-for-tat escalation in the trade tensions between China and the US. The Trump administration Friday announced plans to raise tariffs on Chinese imports by five percentage points after China's announcement early that day that it planned to tax an additional 5% on US crude imports from September.

This is the first set of tariffs imposed by China on US crude so far, despite other key US energy products such as LNG already facing a 25% tariff by Beijing since the trade conflict began last year.

Analysts said this 5% is unlikely to have a significant impact on the crude oil markets for three reasons: US sales are well diversified, Chinese refiners are not particularly suited to US light sweet, and bilateral oil trade has already declined over trade tension fears. But renewed concerns caused oil futures to plummet Friday, and weighed on global commodity market prices and sentiment.

The G7 summit over the weekend failed to offer any reassurance to oil markets. On Sunday, US President Trump appeared to signal regret for his trade conflict with China, only to have the White House reverse his position hours later. Only one of the numerous surprises on a day when markets had hoped for greater clarity or consensus.

So for our social media question this week: Will the Trump administration backtrack on its trade spat with China? Share your thoughts with the hashtag PlattsMM.

Meanwhile, gasoline suppliers across Asia will be looking for opportunities to boost their sales to Indonesia over the coming days as Southeast Asia's biggest auto fuel consumer plans to ramp up purchases ahead of a planned refinery shutdown next month.

Elsewhere, Japan's decision to delist South Korea from its "white list" will take effect Wednesday, which could cause delays in Japanese refiners' oil product exports to its neighbor.

And last but not least, LNG traders will be gathering at Platts Gas Asia Markets conference in Singapore this week, with all eyes on the demand outlook in the region, as plentiful Pacific supply and high inventories continue to weigh on spot prices. Another cargo exchanged hands on the Platts Asian LNG eWindow Thursday, with Vitol and BP agreeing a mid-October spot deal at $4.30/MMBtu.

Trading patterns continue to evolve in global LNG markets, as commoditization gathers pace. What lies ahead? Grab a copy of our latest LNG special report, New Horizons, an overview of the forces shaping the LNG industry over the next decade.

Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. Have a great week ahead!