China’s voracious appetite for raw materials is showing no signs of abating.
In the 12 months to February, China imported 340.43 million tonnes of crude oil, the largest annual total on record.
During the month 31.8 million tonnes of crude were imported, the largest February figure on record and up 24.4% on the levels of a year earlier.
For January and February combined, 58.49 million tonnes were imported, up 9.3% on the same period a year earlier.
Like crude, the nation’s iron ore imports also hit a record high in the year to February, rising to 962.6 million tonnes.
While China’s imports have now fallen for three straight months, the February figure was up 8.3% on 12 months earlier – no mean feat given supply disruptions from Brazil and Australia during the month, along with the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Compared to January and February last year, imported volumes rose by 6.3%.
When priced in US dollar terms, the figures are significantly less impressive due to the steep falls in commodity prices seen in the past year.
The prices have been hammered, pushing the value of the nation’s imports down despite higher volumes.
While that partially explains the ugly import decline registered in February, it offers little explanation as to why demand for Chinese exports – off a whopping 25.4% over the past year – remains worryingly weak.