Potash exporters fail to agree higher price for China Q2 contract

20 March 2012 16:28  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Leading potash exporters announced on Tuesday that they have failed to achieve a higher price for supplying potash to China in the second quarter of 2012.

Both Belarusian Potash Company (BPC) and Canada-based Canpotex have signed contracts with major Chinese importers at $470/tonne (€357/tonne) CFR (cost & freight), in line with the price set in the second half of 2011.

There was no contract signed in the first quarter of 2012 as China delayed negotiations due to sufficient inventory that would last until March.

BPC has signed an agreement with Sinochem and China National Agricultural Means of Production Corporation (CNAMPGC) to supply 400,000 tonnes of muriate of potash (MOP) and 100,000 tonnes of optional quantities in the April-June period, it said in a statement. BPC is a joint venture trader of Russian potash major Uralkali and Belarus’ Belaruskali.

Meanwhile, Canpotex has signed a contract with Sinofert Holdings Limited to supply 500,000 tonnes of MOP in the second quarter, it said. The new contract includes an option to increase the tonnage by an additional 200,000 tonnes for delivery during that same period.

The contract is the third concluded under the three-year memorandum of understanding signed between Canpotex and Sinofert in October 2010.

In the second half of 2011, BPC signed a contract to supply 700,000 tonnes of potash, including an optional tonnage of 200,000 tonnes, at $470/tonne CFR. Canpotex had agreed to supply 630,000 tonnes of potash to Sinofert during the second half of 2011.

In 2011, China imported around 6m tonnes of potash. It paid $400/tonne CFR for first-half 2011 shipments and $470/tonne CFR for the second half of the year.

Analysts view the deals as moderately positive for potash producers as it brings an end to the uncertainty regarding prices. Potash importers in southeast Asia and Latin America, which use the Chinese contract price as a benchmark, are likely to start making big purchases now.

“We view the news as moderately positive for Uralkali as the long-awaited contract should help to revitalise the global potash trade. In addition it should also improve Uralkali’s capacity utilisation rate, though not by a huge margin as the contract will be split 50/50 with Belaruskali,” said Mikhail Pak, senior analyst at LLC Aton.

However, exporters’ failure to get a higher price now puts the Indian contract negotiations in the spotlight. India imported nearly 6m tonnes of potash in 2011. It paid $470/tonne CFR for the second and third quarters of the 2011-2012 fiscal year and $530/tonne CFR for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year.

Indian contracts may now be finalised earlier than July, which is the deadline set by local importers. Indian importers have delayed negotiations due to high inventory levels, currency fluctuations and a lack of demand.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Deepika Thapliyal
+44 208 652 3214

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