Development of China’s natural stone sector in 2022 compared to 2021: fewer imports on average (-19.2%), but growth again in exports with in some cases extreme increases in value

China’s natural stone imports 2022 compared to 2021. Source: CSMA

In an Interview with, Chen Guoqing, president of China’s stone association CSMA, analyzes the statistics below..

In China’s natural stone statistics of last year (2022), there was a decrease in imports by -19.2%* compared to the previous year 2021! That’s almost a fifth less, and it affected almost all supplier countries. It was extreme in the case of Turkey (-35.9%).

Exceptions were Brazil (+12%) and Angola and Cambodia.

The percentage increases in the case of Angola (+167.7%) and Cambodia (+42.4%) are noteworthy. Apparently, the Chinese government has also has its eye on Africa in the natural stone sector. Zimbabwe, by the way, imposed an export ban on granite blocks last year – but rough blocks are the only stone commodity China buys.

It is also worth mentioning that we look at imports by stone type: in the case of marble, the drop (-28.5%) was almost ten times the drop in granite (-3.8%).

We will get to the bottom of the reasons for the changes in an interview with Chen Guoqing, president of the China Stone Material Association (CSMA). The figures come from the association.

One thing to note about the development over the last 3 years is that there had already been a drop in imports of over -10% in 2020. In 2021, however, the increase had been strong again.

We suspect that China is generally buying less stone in the world and that the 2021 increase should be understood as a Covid-19 effect: Stocks were empty after the 2019 lockdowns and were replenished.

China’s natural stone exports 2022 compared to 2021. Source: CSMA

In the case of exports, the development seems to be somewhat more complex. We will therefore focus only on one result of last year: there was a decrease by tonnage (-11.7%), but by value there was an increase and it was much stronger (+22.8%). In other words, Chinese exporters sold one-tenth less stone products, but earned almost three-tenths more money with this lower volume.

At first glance, one can assume that the reason for this is that the Chinese have landed even more high-value construction projects than before: There was finally +22.4% in exports of finished products by value.

However: there was also an increase in value of exported blocks, by a whopping +150%.

We speculate: perhaps China’s exporters have specialized in grades that are in high demand at the moment. These are quartzites, and the fact that – as said above – Brazil did so well in imports suggests that its exotic quartzites at least contributed to this result.

Also noteworthy in exports is that shipments to Europe have been declining steadily for some time. Conversely, exports to the USA seem to have stabilized – after the deposition of US President Trump.

China Stone Material Association (CSMA, Chinese)

* To keep the many figures reasonably clear, we have placed a minus in front of the numbers for decreases, even though this is mathematically incorrect.

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(02.04.2023, USA: 03.04.2023)