Unexpected Truth: China Did Not Rule the 2022 Commodity Market

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China is tagged as the world’s biggest natural resources buyer, yet its dominance was not observed during the year that was.

Reuters first reported on January 16 that China’s commodity trade data for 2022 shows that the country needed to be in control of volume and price play. 

“The market narrative for China’s appetite for commodities has largely moved on from what was a soft 2022 to expectations of a strong 2023. After all, the world’s second-largest economy is reopening and rebuilding after abandoning its strict zero-COVID policies,” mentioned Reuters in the report. 

The world’s biggest consumer of commodities such as oil and copper may drive commodity markets in 2023 after a lull in 2022. Analysts believe that China’s economic growth this year could reach levels not seen before the pandemic. 

Analysts believe such growth will drive commodity demand in China and lead to higher prices in global markets in 2023. In particular, oil, copper, and coal commodities are expected to benefit from increased Chinese demand. 

Yet, it is worth noting the trend since the pandemic started. “There were differences in China’s 2022 commodities imports, and the trends established may persist for a while yet,” emphasised Reuters.

The imports of crude oil and natural gas, which fell by 0.9% and 9.9%, respectively, in 2022 compared to the previous year, were the primary commodities that were most obviously poor. 

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) recently said that oil prices are expected to remain low for at least 2022 as supply levels remain above demand. 

“Crude oil imports slipped for a second straight year to the equivalent of 10.17 million barrels per day (BPD), according to official data released on January 13.”

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