Statistics and markets

Chinese tile exports in free fall

04/06/2020

In 2019 Chinese ceramic tile exports registered the sixth yearly decrease, falling by 9.8% to 770 million sq.m

China was the first country to have been affected by the coronavirus emergency and was also the first to emerge from it. According to a number of economists, it is domestic consumption rather than exports that will drive China’s short-term recovery. This could be probably true also for the Chinese ceramic tile industry.

Continuing the uninterrupted negative trend that had been underway since 2014, 2019 marked another grim year for China’s ceramic tile exports. Export volumes fell by 9.8% from 854 million sqm in 2018 to 770.5 million sqm in 2019, a sharp deterioration compared to the previous year’s decline of 5.9%.

The fall in exports concerned all continents.

Sales in Asia fell sharply to 477.6 million sqm (39 million sqm less than in 2018, -7.6%). The Philippines remained the largest export market for Chinese ceramic tiles despite a 4.3% drop to 77.5 million sqm (-4.3%). Exports suffered sharper falls in South Korea (-12.6%) and Indonesia (-29.3%), while sales grew in Cambodia (+40%) and Thailand (+3%).

The losses in volume terms were smaller in Latin America (75.5 million sqm, 3 million sqm less than in 2018) and in Oceania (31.8 million sqm, down 4 million sqm), as well as in the European Union, where imports from China are now below 10 million sqm (-14.6%) and in the rest of Europe (10.3 million sqm, -3.8%).

The downward curve of Chinese exports to Africa appears to have stabilised in 2019, levelling out at 120 million sqm in the last two years compared to the peak of 250 million sqm in 2014. By contrast, North America saw the biggest decline (-43.9%), with exports dropping from 80.5 to 45.2 million sqm. This is hardly a surprise following the introduction of countervailing duties (in September) and anti-dumping duties (in November) on tiles imported into the USA from China. Sales of Chinese tiles in the United States fell by half, dropping from 64 million sqm in 2018 to 32 million sqm at the end of 2019, a slump that was entirely concentrated in the last 4 months of the year.

China’s effective elimination from the US market appears to have occurred in the first quarter of 2020, accelerated by the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic. Between January and March 2020, US imports from China fell by no less than 97.9% in value!