By Florence Tan and Hallie Gu
SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) – A rare ethanol shipment of U.S. origin is expected to arrive in China this month, according to three industry sources and shipping data, probably the first such cargo since the two countries struck an initial trade deal in January.
The market has been watching closely for signs of renewed trade in biofuel after China waived some additional tariffs on 696 American products, ethanol among them, to support purchases of U.S. farm goods, after the signing of the Phase 1 trade deal.
Oil tanker SC Chongqing, which loaded a cargo of about 9,000 tonnes at Oman’s Sohar port in April, is expected to arrive at Nanjing in eastern Jiangsu province on Friday, shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon showed.
One of the sources, who track ethanol trades closely, said the vessel was carrying ethanol that originated from the United States and had been resold to China.
The second source said a Chinese importer had bought the cargo from a Saudi seller at a low price, but it was not immediately clear why the U.S. ethanol cargo was exported from Oman and if it will face China’s import tariff.
Refinitiv data showed that an 8,000-tonne cargo from Houston discharged at Jubail in Saudi Arabia on March 21.
Tariffs on U.S. fuel ethanol had ranged as high as 70% after Beijing increased retaliatory tariffs on U.S. shipments in its tit-for-tat trade dispute with Washington, effectively halting trade.
But a slump in fuel demand has led to an oversupply of ethanol, crashing U.S. prices of the biofuel, forcing producers to slash output.
The third source said a cargo of U.S. ethanol was expected to arrive later this month at the port of Yizheng, neighbouring Nanjing.
The fuel ethanol will be stored in a warehouse in the nearby city of Yangzhou, he added.
“People are looking to import fuel ethanol from overseas as prices in northeastern China have risen the past few days,” said the China-based trader.
All the sources sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
(Reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore and Hallie Gu in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)