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China’s Oil Imports Under Pressure

China’s crude oil imports have declined by 5.6% in volume terms in the first seven months of the year, unusual in an economy with GDP growing at headline rates of 12.7% y/y in 2021. But given the increasing importance of China’s independent refineries and exports of refined products, crude imports are no longer a straightforward read into trends in China’s domestic demand and economic performance. This note briefly outlines the factors behind the slowdown in crude imports so far this year. For the rest of the year, we expect a small pickup in crude imports relative to current levels, but a full-year drop compared to 2020.

Posted August 30, 2021
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