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Updated to Q1 2021
Phosphates export supply out of China is low for the first quarter, as it will be destined for the domestic market until at least the Lunar New Year in mid February. Chinese phosphates producers are expected to focus on the domestic season for this quarter. In Morocco, OCP will operate at 65% capacity in Q1 and will increase phosphoric acid production and decrease granulation. The producer will also have less product to ship to the US.
Asian demand in the first quarter is traditionally muted, especially in India where it is the off season. Import demand in India is expected to pick up towards the end of the quarter following the announcement of the new budget for 2021-2022 and the settlement of the annual fertilizer subsidies. Phosphates demand for Pakistan is also expected to emerge from February for import cargoes and most buyers are already in the market.
Availability to Europe is expected to be steady, as producers are focusing on this market and have increased their offer prices. PhosAgro has sold out for exports for January. Russian producers are expected to ship more product to Brazil and Europe if the US import tax on phosphates comes into effect in Q1. In Morocco, OCP will continue shipping product to Europe due to the higher netbacks to the continent.
European phosphates demand is expected to be strong, as it is the season to make purchases for spring application. Also, Russian and regional markets are expected to remain firm for the first three months of the year and producers are looking to focus on these markets where there are better netbacks. Buyers will need to make purchases for this year, as 2020 activity has been lacklustre throughout due to the unfavourable weather conditions earlier in the year.
As the quarter moves towards the spring season the availability of supply is expected to increase. The question is whether it will be a case of domestic production rising further, or will imports begin to arrive despite the continuing duty investigations. With the recent tightness, inventory levels are not as replenished as would typically be seen to start a new year.
Demand is expected to rise as farmers are set to plant significant acreage due to favourable crop prices. With many receiving governmental assistance their ability to spend on inputs is viewed as having improved with phosphates expect to be in strong demand. The amount of demand will be lifted during the quarter with buying that was deferred to end last year.
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