China's crude exports fall as imports rise

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 27 -- China's rising demand for oil is slashing the country's exports of crude oil and boosting imports, according to statistics released by the General Administration of Customs.

The agency reported an 83.2% year-on-year decline in crude oil exports and an 8.8% rise in imports for March.

Cao Xiaoxi, chief engineer of Sinopec's Economic and Development Research Institute, said the figures reflect a 5% tariff aimed at discouraging export trade. "It's a long-term, clear policy to rein in crude and oil product exports," Cao said.

The outlook for imports is unclear.

Niu Li, an economist with the State Information Center affiliated with China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, said there is no guarantee that oil imports will rise this year. He said high global oil prices would dampen local demand.

In March, China exported 218,988 tonnes of crude oil. In February it exported no crude, while January exports stood at 300,000 tonnes.

During the next 2-3 months, Chinese demand gains against year-earlier levels are projected at 6% for diesel, 6.5% for gasoline, 5.5% for kerosine, and 20% for naphtha.

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