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OCP says phosphate markets have bottomed

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Office Cherifien de Phosphate, the state-run Moroccan fertilizer giant, forecast rising phosphate prices, as global production eases, even at it targets

"We believe that the phosphate market is hitting the bottom of the cycle," said OCB chairman and chief executive Mostafa Terrab.

"At the end of 2016, we saw prices picking up due to higher demand from key import markets combined with lower industry-wide production rates," Mr Terrab said.

Rising demand

Mr Terrab said the market was likely to remain "supply-driven", with global production volumes dictation prices.

But OCP did forecast rising demand, thanks to "stable crop fundamentals and reduced prices for inputs".

According to Canadian broker Raymond James, phosphate prices in Tampa, Florida, are up some 4.4% over the last four weeks, at $375 a tonne, the highest level in over a year, although unchanged over the last week.

OCP saw phosphate prices "flat on expectations of re-emerging Chinese supply".

Falling profits

OCP, the world's largest phosphate exporter, reported plummeting profits, thanks to a slide in phosphate and fertiliser prices in 2016, prompting the company to boost production.

Company profits fell by 52.8% to 3.78bn dirhams (about $379m) in 2016.

Consolidated revenues fell to 42.47bn dirhams from 47.74bn dirhams a year ago.

Hopes to increase production

OCP is targeting an increase in fertiliser production to 12m tonnes.

The company recently signed a 50-50 joint-venture agreement with India's Kribhco for a new fertilizer plant in the Indian region of Andhra Pradesh with an annual production capacity of 1.2m tonnes.

It has also signed a deal with the Ethiopian government to build a fertilizer in Ethiopia.

"Production is expected to start in 2022, with an annual capacity of 2.5m tonnes of fertilizers.

By William Clarke

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