HomeEconomic IndicatorChina's purchases of soybeans and copper decline, while crude oil imports see...

China’s purchases of soybeans and copper decline, while crude oil imports see an increase.

China’s Exports and Imports Show Signs of Stabilization

China’s Exports and Imports

China’s exports and imports experienced a slower decline for the second consecutive month in September, according to customs data released on Friday. This positive trend is attributed to the implementation of various policy support measures, signaling a gradual stabilization in the country’s economy, which is the second-largest in the world.

Exports Decline at a Slower Pace

In September, China’s outbound shipments dropped by 6.2% compared to the same period last year, following a decrease of 8.8% in August. This decline was better than the 7.6% fall predicted by economists in a Reuters poll.

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Imports Fall with Signs of Recovery

The decline in imports also showed signs of improvement, with a decrease of 6.2% in September. Although this missed the projected 6.0% decline, it was better than the 7.3% contraction in August. The recovery in domestic demand played a significant role in this positive trend.

Key Commodity Trade Data

  • Soybeans: September imports at 7.15 million metric tons, down 23.6% month-on-month and 7.3% year-on-year.
  • Crude oil: September imports at 45.74 million metric tons, down 13.4% month-on-month but up 14% year-on-year.
  • Iron ore: September imports at 101.18 million metric tons, down 4.9% month-on-month but up 1.47% year-on-year.
  • Copper: September imports at 480,426 metric tons, up 1.5% month-on-month but down 5.8% year-on-year.

Analysts’ Comments on Commodity Data

Experts have provided insights into the commodities data:

Crude Oil:

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Emma Li, China Oil Markets Analyst at Vortexa in Singapore, explains that the decline in September’s crude imports is primarily due to reduced Saudi and Russian volumes. Oil majors have cut Saudi nominations, leading to accelerated crude destocking. Additionally, teapot refiners are shifting away from expensive Russian oil.


Hu Tianyu, a Shanghai-based analyst at CRU, indicates that the monthly increase in copper imports is attributed to improved import conditions in September. More copper flowed from bonded warehouses into China. The yearly decline can be attributed to higher interest rates in the United States, making copper financing more expensive and reducing demand for imports.


Rosa Wang, an analyst at Shanghai-based agro-consultancy JCI, suggests that the decline in soybean imports from a year ago is partly due to poor crush margin, slow presales of soymeal, weak pig margin, and a bearish outlook on global soybean prices. However, the higher import volume compared to estimates may be due to delayed cargoes finally clearing customs.

Darin Friedrichs, Co-Founder of Shanghai-based Sitonia Consulting, highlights that the September soybean import number is relatively low, which could result in supply tightness in the fourth quarter. The United States is facing logistics issues due to low water levels on the Mississippi River, and the USDA recently lowered the US soybean yield in their report.

Iron Ore:

Cai Yongzheng, Director of Jiangsu Fushi Data Research Institute in Nanjing, estimates that China’s iron ore imports in October will be around 99 million metric tons due to falling demand. Some steel mills in western regions have reduced their production, resulting in losses.

China’s Role in Global Trade:

China is the world’s largest importer and top buyer of coal, iron ore, and soybeans. The country’s import and export trends have a significant impact on global trade dynamics.

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