China delays release of phenol ADD probe prelim results to March

Source: ICIS News

2019/01/23

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China may have delayed releasing the preliminary results of its anti-dumping duty (ADD) investigation on phenol imports from five origins, including the US, to March – almost a full year since the probe began.

A container ship at the port of Qingdao in China (Source: Sipa Asia/REX/Shutterstock)

The Chinese authorities were initially largely expected to come up with preliminary findings six months after the probe on phenol imports from the US, EU, South Korea, Japan and Thailand was launched on 26 March 2018.

“This is the longest ADD investigation in quite a while,” a China-based trader said.

Chinese authorities may be opting to wait until after the 90-day trade war truce with the US lapses on 1 March, before taking any further action.

US President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping had agreed on 1 December 2018 on a moratorium on further imposition of tariffs against each other’s goods for about three months, while working on resolving their trade war which started in July last year.

“Under normal circumstances, the final results would have been announced in one year,” a northeast Asia-based producer said.

Chinese buyers had lost interest in US-origin phenol following imposition of a 10% import duty in late August 2018. US was a major exporter of the material to China, from which the northeast Asian country sourced about a third of its phenol imports in 2016.

US-origin phenol bound for China was imposed with a 10% import duty in late August last year, when the second volley of shots were fired in the trade war between the two economic giants.

A confluence of reduced imports from the US, concerns about the ADD probe, along with reduced overall supply, saw China’s phenol import prices soaring to a record high in 2018.

China's investigation on phenol imports was initiated in response to requests from domestic producers, including PetroChina Jilin Petrochemical, Changshu Changchun, CEPSA Shanghai, Sinopec Mitsui Chemicals, Bluestar Harbin Petrochemical, Yangzhou Shiyou and Huizhou Zhongxin.

However, the preliminary findings had been delayed, due to the escalating trade war between China and the US.

Focus article by Angeline Soh

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