BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) – China’s exports of lithium hydroxide in the first quarter surged 72% from a year ago, customs data showed on Friday, underpinned by strong overseas demand for battery raw materials and falling prices.
The world’s top producer and exporter of the battery metal shipped out 30,206 tonnes in the first three months of 2023, up from 17,559 tonnes exported during the same period in 2022.
In March, exports rose 77% from a year earlier to 10,235 tonnes.
The sharp downtrend was because of weakening demand from China’s electric vehicle (EV) market after Beijing ended its national subsidies this year, as well as high lithium stocks.
“In the wake of poor domestic demand, exporters are offering bigger discounts of their material to overseas buyers to destock,” Vicky Zhao, a Beijing-based senior analyst at Fastmarkets, said ahead of the data’s release.
China’s overall exports showed a surprise jump in March because of the rising demand for lithium batteries as well as electric vehicles and solar products, officials said earlier this month.
Spot prices for lithium hydroxide delivered to China, Japan and South Korea assessed by Fastmarkets dropped to $40.50 per kg on April 20, less than half of the peak price of $85 per kg last December. MB-LI-0033
($1 = 6.8762 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Siyi Liu, Amy Lv and Dominique Patton in Beijing; Additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Editing by Sonali Paul and Christian Schmollinger)
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