SHANGHAI, May 15 (SMM) – China’s imports of lead concentrate and exports of lead-acid batteries are likely to be affected by the latest bout of tit-for-tat tariffs between Washington and Beijing.
Lead-acid battery is on the list of $200 worth of Chinese goods that are subject to 25% of US tariffs, which was up from 10% and kicked in on Friday. This is estimated to impact China’s exports of such products by 3-4 million units per year.
China exported about 200 million units of lead-acid batteries per year in previous years, and those that entered the US accounted for 12-20% of the total.
China is a leading lead-acid battery producer, and its yearly lead consumption in such products took up some 40% of the global total.
China’s imports of lead-acid batteries stood around 10 million units per year, and most of them were used to start reciprocating piston engines. Those imports consumed 40,000-50,000 mt of lead.
China’s tariffs on US lead concentrate will remain unchanged at 10%, which began in September. The US is a major lead concentrate exporter to China. About 1.2-1.4 million mt of lead concentrate imports entered China per year in recent years, accounting for 30% of overall supplies in China.
Imports of lead concentrate that originated from the US halved in 2018, as domestic smelters sought for suppliers from other countries since the trade war started earlier last year.
The tariffs are expected to impact lead concentrate supply in China in the short term, but the country’s reliance on seaborne lead concentrate will fall in the long term as the share of lead-containing scrap used in lead smelting climbs.
Imports of other lead-related products, including lead alloy and lead plate, amounted to 30,000-50,000 mt per year, and this accounted for less than 1% of overall supplies across the country. Those products are expected to feel limited pain amid the US-China trade war.