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UPDATE 1-China's state planner says taking steps to ensure fertiliser supplies

(Updates with background, comments)

Oct 20 (Reuters) - China’s state planner said on Wednesday it will take steps to safeguard fertilizer supplies by improving capacity utilization and rail transport, keeping tabs on import and export trends and strengthening the role of reserves.

Prices of fertilizer and urea have surged this year, boosted by high prices of coal, a feedstock ingredient, and concerns over lower supplies due to a crackdown on high energy-consuming industries including fertilizer.

Urea futures on the Zhengzhou Futures Exchange have gained over 70% this year, but was last down 8% at 2,978 yuan ($465.92) per tonne amid a slide in coal prices.

National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said spokeswoman Meng Wei on Wednesday that the state planner would ensure enterprises get adequate supplies of coal, electricity, natural gas and sulphur to produce chemical fertilizers.

Secondly, she said the planner would take steps to ensure “the release of relevant chemical fertilizer reserves.”

Thirdly, she said, authorities would closely monitor domestic and foreign fertilizer markets and import and export trends.

Earlier this year, China launched investigations into the urea market, announced key fertilizer companies would temporarily suspend exports, and said it would release potash fertiliser reserves to keep the supply and prices of fertilisers stable.

Most recently, in a move viewed as a de facto ban on fertilizer exports, China’s customs said that from Oct. 15 inspection certificates would be required to ship fertilizer and related materials.

China is the world’s largest phosphate exporter, shipping 4.75 million tonnes of diammonium phosphate fertiliser from January to August this year to buyers like India and Pakistan as well as 2.93 million tonnes of urea, according to customs data. ($1 = 6.3916 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms; Editing by Christian Schmollinger & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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