China has rolled out provisional tariffs on a number of
minerals, with effect from 1 January 2017, according to the
country’s Ministry of Finance on 19 December
Under the revision, China will cut its existing export duty
for apatite to 15% in 2017, down by five percentage points
compared with 2016.
At the same time, the country will reduce the export duty
for NPK (nitrate-phosphorous-potassium) fertiliser to 20%, from
30% in 2016. The government will continue to implement 1% of
the provisional tax rate on ammonium phosphate fertiliser
Export taxes for antimony ore, metal and related products
will remain unchanged at 20%.
Graphite and magnesia duty cancelled
In December 2016, China cancelled its export duties for
natural flake graphite, magnesia and magnesite products.
The State Council of China approved an export tax adjustment
on partial products, including the cancellation of export taxes
on graphite, magnesia and magnesite, effective 1 January
Natural graphite exports were previously subject to a 20%
Although removing the tariff suggests that China is further
opening graphite up to the world market, in December the
country added flake graphite to its list of strategically
important minerals, along with fluorspar and rare earths,
"for further protection".
Instead, the cancellation is considered to relate to a World
Trade Organization (WTO) case in the summer of 2016, when both
the US and Europe complained about China’s export
tax on 11 source materials, including graphite.
In August, China responded that the export tax on these
products was not only helpful to sustainable development,
reasonable use of resources and the environment, but also
insisted that it complies with WTO regulations.
Exports of magnesite and caustic calcined magnesia were
subject to a 5% tax while fused magnesia (FM) and dead burned
magnesia (DBM) exports had a 10% tariff.
In November, export quotas for magnesia disappeared from the
government list release for 2017.
The impact of the graphite tax cancellation is not yet
Some market participants contacted by IM said they believe it
may lead to an improvement in profitability if the price is
sustained. However others fear that a price war may ensue if
small competitors opt to reduce their prices by the 20%,
given the already tight margins producers are operating with.
China has further reduced its tariffs in 2017 under free
trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia, Pakistan, Switzerland,
Costa Rica, Iceland, South Korea, New Zealand and
Tariffs for Australia-origin minerals, including lithium and
titanium dioxide (TiO2) feedstocks, will be
scrapped this year. China imports most of its spodumene from