Caustic soda prices fall in eastern Africa, rise in north Africa

22 November 2012 17:19  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Solid caustic soda prices in eastern Africa are expected to decline by about $30/tonne on the back of low-priced offers from China, while prices in north Africa are moving in the opposite direction, sources said on Thursday.

"The market sentiment is bearish now and this could result in drops again," a trader said, commenting on price movements in eastern Africa.

Solid caustic soda prices declined by $15-20/tonne (€11.70-15.60/tonne) to $650-670/tonne cost and freight (CFR) Kenya last week, and one buyer and one trader said material is also offered at $630-650/tonne CFR Kenya from China.

The trader said the $630/tonne mark is representative of the eastern African market and it expected a further $10-15/tonne drop in the next couple of weeks. It added that the price fall has been mainly driven by lower liquid caustic soda values in Asia.

Liquid caustic soda prices have dropped by $90/dmt from $470-480/dmt free on board (FOB) northeast (NE) Asia in July to $380-390/dmt FOB NE Asia in November.

Meanwhile, sources expect liquid caustic soda values in north Africa to rise in December because supply is short and demand is likely to strengthen.

"I expect a $20/tonne increase as demand may increase and supplies are short," an Egyptian producer said.

Liquid caustic soda prices are currently $480-500/dmt FOB North Africa.

Back in eastern Africa, one buyer in Kenya said it needed an extra 1,000 tonnes of solid caustic soda for December and it is now looking for suppliers to provide it.

Offers from India to eastern Africa are at $675/tonne CFR Kenya and at this price they are uncompetitive against cheaper Chinese imports.

Because domestic prices in India are higher than prices in Kenya, Indian exporters have been reluctant to lower prices.

"As long as Indian prices stay unchanged it is unlikely exporters will go below the $675/tonne mark," the trader said.

($1 = €0.78) 

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By: Janos Gal
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