China Tea Export Briefing: January – March 2020

C h i n a T e a E x p o r t B r i e f i n g : J a n u a r y M a r c h 2 0 2 0

The China Tea Marketing Association (CTMA) recently released a briefing on China tea exports for the months of January to March 2020.

Data provided by China Customs


Versus Q1 2019:

  • Total export volume dropped to 72,000 metric tons, a 9.68 percent drop
  • Total export value dropped 1.32% to $373 million USD
  • Export price per kg increased 9.26% to $5.17 USD/kg

Exports by tea type

  • 82.5% of exports were green tea: 59,600 metric tons, down from 60,000 same period previous year
  • 8.6% black: 6,218 metric tons, down by 2,173 metric tons from Q1 of 2019


Versus March 2019:

  • 21.88% increase in volume; rising to 33,700 tons
  • Export value rose to $162 million USD; up 11.85%
  • Average export price decreased to $4.72 USD/kg, representing an 8.2% drop over previous March


While the fluctuating increases and decreases may seem at odds, there are likely a few factors that can help explain:

Late January saw the beginnings of the COVID-19 lockdown take place in China, preceeded by slightly earlier Chinese New Year holiday closures. The extended holiday closure followed by coronavirus lockdown meant that ports and shipments were delayed more than usual. Resumption of exports and operations in late February triggered a catch-up period with higher than average activity spilling over into March.

The US-China trade war saw a 15% tariff on tea exports from China to the US extending from September 2019 until a Phase One Agreement reduced those tariffs to 7.5% effective February 14, 2020. In 2019, the US was the 8th largest importer of tea by volume and 6th largest by value. The tariff reduction, combined with coronavirus delays, could have triggered a backlog of orders contributing to March’s increases.

Reports also indicate that Morocco has been importing record volumes of Chinese green tea recently. Historically, the country purchased nearly 20% of China’s total export volume, especially green tea. This added spike in orders from Morocco may also be flavoring the data- but further details are pending.

As covered in previous reports, China does not anticipate the harvest and production of teas for export to be impacted. Harvests for these teas have proceeded as usual in most cases.

The original report can be found here: