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Cut in Production Royalty Rate to Support American Soda Ash Producers

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Cut in Production Royalty Rate to Support American Soda Ash Producers

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Sodium Carbonate – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The fall in the production and consumption of soda ash (sodium carbonate) on the American market was precipitated by the declining demand in the consumer industries and exacerbated by the Covid crisis. The cut introduced in 2021 in terms of royalty rates for soda ash production to enable producers to reestablish competitive prices and regain their positions on the export markets. 

Key Trends and Insights

In 2020, American soda ash production fell to 9.7M tonnes, a decline of 17% against the previous year. The consumption volume also declined over the third consecutive year, standing at approx. 4.1M tonnes in 2020. This downturn is largely shaped by the drop in demand from downstream industries, particularly, glass production, hampered by the pandemic.

Exports also fell from 7.0M tonnes in 2019 to 5.7M tonnes in 2020. To struggle with this downward trend, the cut in production royalty rates in Wyoming, the base for four out of the five American soda ash production plants, from 6% to 2% was introduced in January 2021. This is to enable producers to scale down prices, thereby making the product competitive on both the domestic and export markets.

A significant increase in demand for soda ash from the glass industry, which comprises near 48% of the market, is not anticipated in the medium term. Despite construction growth in the second half of 2020, overall, the American glass output continued to decline over the second consecutive year due to competition from alternative packaging materials for canned food and drinks, and the rise in the recycling and reuse of glass products.

Almost all American soda ash is manufactured using the Trona process. This is more energy-efficient than other forms of production technologies (Solvay and Hou), reflecting the provisions of the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The wave of suburban construction growth started in the 2nd half of 2020, is set to continue in the immediate term, which is to promote glass production. Should the pandemic wane in 2021, market performance is forecast to expand with an anticipated CAGR of +0.4% for the period from 2019 to 2030, driven by the gradual recovery of the economy and incomes. This is projected to bring the market volume to 7.7M tonnes by the end of 2030 (IndexBox estimates).

Mexico to Remain the Major Export Destination for the American Soda Ash

In 2019, the amount of sodium carbonate exported from the U.S. stood at 7M tonnes, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year’s figure. The total export volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.9% over the period from 2012 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations being observed throughout the analyzed period. In value terms, sodium carbonate exports amounted to $1.6B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

Mexico (1.3M tonnes), Indonesia (828K tonnes) and Brazil (793K tonnes) were the main destinations of sodium carbonate exports from the U.S., with a combined 42% share of total exports. Malaysia, Chile, Viet Nam, Thailand, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan (Chinese) and Canada lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 43%.

In value terms, Mexico ($307M), Indonesia ($185M) and Brazil ($165M) constituted the largest markets for sodium carbonate exported from the U.S. worldwide, with a combined 42% share of total exports. These countries were followed by Malaysia, Chile, Viet Nam, Thailand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan (Chinese), India and Canada, which together accounted for a further 43%.

In terms of the main countries of destination, Malaysia recorded the highest rates of growth concerning the value of exports, over the period under review, while shipments for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

The average sodium carbonate export price stood at $221 per tonne in 2019, with an increase of 5.4% against the previous year. Over the last seven-year period, it increased at an average annual rate of +1.3%.

Average prices varied somewhat for the major external markets. In 2019, the countries with the highest prices were Viet Nam ($242 per tonne) and Canada ($240 per tonne), while the average prices for exports to India ($178 per tonne) and Japan ($205 per tonne) were amongst the lowest.

From 2012 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to Canada, while the prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform