China has launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of phenol from the U.S., the EU, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Thailand, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said in a statement on Monday.
The investigation starts Monday and should be completed by March 26, 2019, but can be extended until September 26, 2019.
Phenol is a derivative of benzene, which is produced from petroleum.
The investigation comes following an official complaint by seven Chinese petrochemical companies, with the first few months of this year seeing turbulence in the price of benzene.
The Republic of Korea accounted for 33 percent of Chinese phenol imports in the first three quarters of 2017, followed by the US with 26 percent, according to the International Chemical Information Service (ICIS).
A report by ICIS in June last year quoted a source as saying U.S. producers were "consistently moving phenol into Asia," at prices between 44 and 88 US dollars per ton below market value. The source told ICIS "Asian producers are not happy with this trend."
Benzene prices hit a peak of 951 U.S. dollars per ton on January 19, before a sharp 2.1 percent fall to around 890 U.S. dollars per ton last month.
On March 20, China's MOC confirmed the results of an anti-dumping investigation into imports of Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK), declaring companies from the ROK, Japan and South Africa had caused damage to China's domestic MIBK industry.
As a result of the investigation, the MOC put tariffs as high as 190.4 percent on imports of MIBK from Japan, as well as levies as high as 34.1 percent and 32.3 percent on imports from South Africa and the ROK respectively.
China in 2016 imported 48.5 million U.S. dollars' worth of MIBK, which is an important component in producing paints, rubber, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals.