FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook May/June 1997

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Urea prices continued to decline in April and this trend is expected to continue world wide unless producers are able to balance urea output with demand. Prices may well fall below U.S.$ 110 per ton as there is as yet no demand for urea imports from China, the largest urea importer, in the absence of import licenses. China’s domestic urea production has risen sharply over the past year and stocks are considerable. Producers from the Middle East and Indonesia consequently lowered prices to remain competitive in the Indian and Vietnamese markets. Urea imports in Brazil, Argentina and India are being effected at much lower prices compared to one year ago. Producers in Ukraine and the Russian Federation are reportedly planning plant turnarounds or to stop part of the production. Reduced supply from June onward might eventually prevent prices from falling further.

Prices for ammonia decreased slightly during March and the first half of April and stabilized in the second part of the month. Slack demand is the cause for the present price behaviour. Prices may fall again as demand remains weak. Regular shipments are foreseen from the Ukraine with most of the tonnage already committed. In the U.S., prices have also declined and the demand is slow but they may increase again when availability of ammonia from former USSR ports declines in June.


1997 1996 Change from

March April April last year 1/

( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . U.S.$/ton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ) ( . percentage . )

eastern Europe 142-147 132-135 167-177 - 22.4
Middle East 161-166 154-161 193-197 - 19.3
Ammonium Sulphate

eastern Europe 71-75 68-71 70-73 - 2.8
U.S. Gulf 90-95 90-95 65-72 + 35.1
western Europe 80-85 80-85 69-76 + 13.7
Diammonium Phosphate

Jordan 219-223 213-216 233-239 - 9.1
North Africa 209-213 204-211 214-239 - 8.4
U.S. Gulf 195-198 194-197 200-204 - 3.0
Triple Superphosphate

North Africa 166-171 165-170 172-177 - 3.8
U.S. Gulf 176-181 172-176 167-173 + 2.3
Muriate of Potash

eastern Europe 85-100 85-100 78-90 + 10.1
Vancouver 117-125 116-125 119-125 - 1.3
western Europe 112-117 112-117 103-115 + 5.0

SOURCE: Compiled from Fertilizer Week and Fertilizer Market Bulletin.
1/ From mid-point of given ranges.

The average spot prices for ammonium sulphate fell slightly in April for eastern Europe and remained stable for the United States and western Europe. However, the current ammonium sulphate price is much higher than the price recorded in the same period last year for the latter two regions. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Philippines have entered the market for the import of large amounts of ammonium sulphate.

Prices for diammonium phosphate (DAP) declined moderately and are below the level recorded in April 1996. Prices are expected to increase in the next few months. The domestic market in the United States will remain strong for a few more weeks due to the delay in planting in some states because of wet weather. China will import 100 000 tonnes DAP for shipment in June/July. There is a firm demand for DAP in South America and India, the latter exceeding expectations.

Triple superphosphate (TSP) prices remained almost stable in North Africa and in the United States. Lebanese TSP has been sold to the United Kingdom. There is weak demand for TSP in Uruguay. The Islamic Republic of Iran is expected to import 60 000 ton of TSP. Myanmar is negotiating a barter for TSP against rice.

Average spot prices of muriate of potash (MOP) did not change in April. In Spain one potash mine will be closed. The Russian Federation continues to expand potash exports. An amount of 40 000 tons was sold to Senegal. In Asia, India, Indonesia, China and the Philippines are purchasing large quantities. There is a steady demand for MOP in Latin America.

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