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The Export of Lithium Batteries Exceeded 100 Billion

Brief introduction of China's foreign trade exports in the first quarter of 2023

In the first quarter of 2023, China’s foreign trade exports improved month by month, achieving a good start. Among them, electric passenger vehicles, lithium batteries, and solar batteries, which are known as the “new three items” of foreign trade, performed well. In the first quarter, the total export increased by 66.9%, with a year-on-year increase of more than 100 billion yuan, which increased the overall growth rate of exports by 2 percent.

Clothing, furniture, and home appliances are often referred to as the “old three items” of foreign trade. Today, while the “old three” are steadily developing, the “new three” have sprung up, becoming a vivid footnote for the improvement and upgrading of China’s foreign trade.

Export of Lithium Batteries: Storage and Shipping

"New Three" become the new driving force for growth

Recently, the car ro-ro ship “Anji Phoenix” with the largest carrying capacity under the SAIC Motor Group, carrying the first batch of 1,000 MG brand new cars, sailed from the exclusive ro-ro terminal of Ningde Port, Fujian Province to the port of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico. This series of models are selling well in nearly 20 countries and regions including Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Thailand and Chile.

Since the beginning of this year, overseas orders from many car companies have increased significantly. “We just received an order for 1,000 new energy vehicles from Turkey, and the factory is running at full capacity,” said Zhang Cailiang, sales manager of Beijing Automobile Works (Qingdao) Import and Export Co., Ltd. ). Data show that in the first quarter of this year, China exported 248,000 new energy vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 1.1 times. Among them, BYD exported a total of 43,000 vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 12.8 times. At present, BYD’s new energy passenger vehicle footprint has spread all over the world in 51 countries and regions.

Among the "new three types", the export growth rate of new energy vehicles is leading.

In the first quarter, the export of electric passenger vehicles was 64.75 billion yuan, an increase of 122.3%. While the proportion of China’s automobile exports increased by 5.1 percentage points, reaching 43.9%.

The export of lithium batteries is also hot.

According to the data released by the General Administration of Customs, the national lithium battery export in the first quarter was 109.79 billion yuan, compared with the export value of 56.5 billion yuan in the same period last year, a year-on-year increase of 94.3%.

A batch of lithium batteries from a battery company in Taizhou, Jiangsu is about to be sent to South Africa. The person in charge of the company said: “This year, overseas customers’ demand for household energy storage has further increased, and we have added a new production line for lithium batteries.” One Guangdong Lithium battery and lead-acid battery manufacturing enterprises, the company’s relevant person in charge said that since the beginning of this year, the demand in the external market has increased significantly.

Driven by multiple factors such as strong demand in foreign electric vehicles and energy storage markets, China exported 109.79 billion yuan of lithium batteries in the first quarter, a growth rate of 94.3%.

Lithium batteries cover different product types such as power batteries, energy storage batteries and consumer batteries (small batteries). The General Administration of Customs has not announced the proportion of battery types exported to various countries, but has announced the specific export amount.

In the first quarter of this year, the top five countries in terms of export value were the United States, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands and Vietnam, accounting for 62.6% of the total export value. In 2022, these five countries will also rank among the top five destinations for China’s lithium battery exports.

In the first quarter, China exported 22.47 billion yuan of lithium batteries to the United States, a year-on-year increase of 93.5%, accounting for 20.5% of the total lithium battery exports. In the same period last year, this value was 11.61 billion yuan.

The United States has become China’s largest exporter of lithium batteries for three consecutive years, accounting for nearly 20% in 2022.

Lithium Battery Package

During the same period, the amount of lithium batteries exported from China to Germany was 19.67 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 182.6%. And the amount of lithium batteries exported to South Korea was 14.461 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 148.5%.

The Netherlands surpassed Vietnam with an export value of 7.627 billion yuan, ranking fourth. Vietnam’s export value was 4.512 billion yuan, ranking fifth. In the same period last year, Vietnam ranked fourth and the Netherlands ranked sixth.

In recent years, China’s lithium battery exports have continued to grow significantly. According to the research report of Chuancai Securities, from 2017 to 2020, China’s lithium battery exports grew steadily at an annual rate of 20%-35%, and ushered in explosive growth of 66.5% and 86.7% in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

In 2022, the total output value of the national lithium battery industry exceeded one trillion yuan for the first time in history. According to data released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the national output of lithium-ion batteries reached 750 GWh last year, an increase of more than 130% year-on-year. And the total output value of the industry exceeded 1.2 trillion yuan, about twice the total industry output value of 600 billion yuan last year.

According to EV Tank data, the overall global shipment of lithium-ion batteries last year was 957.7 GWh, a year-on-year increase of 70.3%. Among them, China’s lithium-ion battery shipments reached 660.8GWh, a year-on-year increase of 97.7%, exceeding the global average growth rate, and accounted for 69% of the global lithium-ion battery shipments.

According to data from South Korean research institute SNE Research, the top ten power battery companies in the world last year were all from China, Japan and South Korea.

What measures do the United States and the European Union take to improve their own lithium battery supply capacity?

Since last year, the United States and the European Union have successively promulgated relevant policies in order to improve the manufacturing capacity of the local new energy industry, including lithium batteries.

In August 2022, the United States passed the “Inflation Reduction Act”, which aims to change the weak lithium battery supply chain in the United States and break the near-monopoly market structure of China, Japan and South Korea in this field.

In January this year, the European Union reached a provisional agreement on the “New Battery Law”, which proposed corresponding management rules for the source of raw materials for batteries, the use of recycled materials, carbon footprints, battery management systems, battery passports, labels, recycling and reuse, etc. And the agreement reached will apply to all types of batteries sold in the EU. The promulgation of the “New Battery Law” has raised the threshold for China’s lithium batteries to be exported to Europe.

In March of this year, the European Union also issued the “European Key Raw Materials Act”, which aims to reduce foreign dependence on rare earth and lithium resources and ensure the supply of lithium battery raw materials.

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