Chinese pesticide imports and exports during the first half of 2019 faced considerable challenges. Although the total value of imports and exports rose to a new high at US$4.473 billion, the growth rate of pesticide imports and exports was only 2.4%, far lower than 8.3% rate in 2018. Of this total amount, exports accounted for $4.178 billion, an increase of 2.6%, which is significantly lower than the 2-digit growth rate in previous years.
From the above chart table, the Chinese pesticide export system, which is based mainly on technicals, remains unchanged. From 2011 to 2017, the export of pesticide technicals dropped from 63.2% to 56.3%, while formulations increased from 36.8% up to 43.7%. Since 2018, the export of pesticide technicals began to increase again, exceeding 60%, while formulations appeared to be decreasing.
In terms of packaging, the export value of pesticide technicals and formulations in industrial packaging totalled $3.169 billion in the first half of 2019, a 2.1% increase, while the export value of formulations in retail packaging amounted to $1.009 billion, a 4% increase. Although sales of products in retail packaging accounted for only around 25% of total, the growth in products sold in retail packaging is higher than in industrial packaging.
With regards to pesticide categories, sales of insecticides grew highest in terms of both value and quantity in the first half of 2019, at 14.5% and 20.8%, respectively. Fungicides came in second place at 6.4%, while the export of plant growth regulators decreased by 27.6%. Sales of various types of herbicides, which account for more than half of the total export value, fell from $2.265 billion last year to $2.163 billion, while export quantity dropped from 520,300 tons to 508,800 tons, down by 4.5% and 2.2%, respectively.
2. Exports to Latin America increasing at highest rate, bifenthrin, clethodim and chlorothalonil played major role.
Exports to Latin America, which is China’s second largest pesticide market, grew significantly, with an export value of $1.223 billion, 30.6% up. Asia is China’s largest pesticide market, with pesticide exports valued at $1.259 billion in the first half of 2019, 2.8% down compared to $1.295 billion during the same period of 2018, but still accounting for 30% of China’s total pesticide exports. In terms of import varieties, Africa imported the largest quantity of formulations.
As for country-specific export figures, Brazil experienced the highest increase in the first half of 2019. As China’s second largest export market, the value of pesticides exported to Brazil grew from $397 million in the same period last year to $573 million, a 44.2% increase. Exports to Argentina took second place, while exports to the United States (US), which is China’s largest pesticide export market, dropped by 9.2%. Exports to India increased by 11.8%, while exports to other Asian countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, all dropped, leading to a decline in the Asian market.
According to the list of top 10 export pesticide varieties, glyphosate
is still China’s leading export product, followed by paraquat, which experienced the largest decrease, while bifenthrin increased the most at 276.7% in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year. Exports of clethodim, emamectin and chlorothalonil experienced relatively high growth.
3. Uncertainties have grown due to the China-US trade conflict, pesticide export predictions uncertain this year.
From 1978 to 2018, global pesticide sales generally rose and is still expected to grow in 2019, driven by worldwide food production needs. In terms of Chinese pesticide exports, the US is still China’s largest export market. However, the value of Chinese pesticide exports to the US in the first half of 2019 decreased by 9.2%. The following chart reveals a significant growth in Chinese pesticide exports to the US last year. Destocking could be a reason for declining exports to the US this in this year.
The China-US trade conflict in the first half of the current year also affected Chinese pesticide exports. The Chinese pesticide industry plays a major role in global supply structure, and there is still demand from the US. However, the tariff dispute between the two countries has not been settled, leading to uncertainties that affect the export of Chinese pesticides.
The issues of pest and disease control add to the uncertainty, and Chinese manufacturers are confronted by stricter environmental and work safety regulations, which must be dealt with effectively by industry players.
The ICAMA, a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, is currently working on implementing appropriate policies to support pesticide import and export businesses, such as shortening registration timeframes and reducing customs-related costs. Furthermore, supportive measures are being adopted to encourage the export of formulations in small packages.
In September, the management of the ICAMA will visit Brazil and Argentina. Any manufacturers wishing to discuss issues during the visit please inform the ICAMA.