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Chinese Iron Ore Imports Fall to 20-Month Low

Coal, Grain, Iron Ore

Chinese iron ore imports slumped to the lowest level since February 2016 in October at 79.5 Mt, down by 1.3 Mt year-on-year, Chinese customs data show. It appears that the effects of October holidays on import levels were exaggerated by anti-pollution measures in major steel producing regions (some of which were linked to the National Party Congress). Nevertheless, strong growth earlier in the year meant imports in January-October were still up by 53.0 Mt on the same period last year at 896.7 Mt.

The country’s coal imports also declined in October, falling by 0.3 Mt to a three-month low of 21.3 Mt. However, similarly to iron ore, year to date shipments were still running well above 2016 at 226.3 Mt (+24.5 Mt year-on-year).

Falling between the major South American and US export seasons, October is traditionally one of the weakest months for Chinese soyabean imports and last month shipments dropped to an eight-month low of 5.9 Mt, although still up by 0.7 Mt year-on-year.