BEIJING, Aug. 2 -- Japan's imports of rare earths from China fell nearly 13% in June from May to their lowest level since February and a second MoM drop in a row as the price of the metal surged.
Ministry of finance data showed that Japanese imports of rare earths from China stood at 1,386 tonnes in June down from 1,592 tonnes in May and the lowest since February's 1,138 tonnes.
An official from a Tokyo trading house said that the drop in imports in June suggests the prices were simply too high for Japanese buyers. Orders from Japanese manufacturers for end-users to secure the material for July to September remain strong but if the prices stay at elevated levels, the volume of imports may show a drop as Japanese buyers would be hesitant about accepting prices which are too high.
He said that just in the past week, prices have fallen broadly about 5%. But since the price is set politically by China and not determined by supply and demand it is difficult to forecast how much Japanese users can procure.
China accounted for 62% of Japan's rare earths imports in June, falling from 79% in May with the United States making up 8% up from 4% in May and Vietnam also 8% up from 3% in May. Imports from Kazakhstan stood at 4% compared to May's 4.5%.