The Return Of China's Trade Data Shows Strong Metal Aluminum Imports

- Dec 04, 2018-

The original aluminum imported in October was 21,000 tons, the highest monthly total since January 2017. However, the cumulative imports in the first 10 months of this year fell by 33% to 69,000 tons, while the semi-finished aluminum products out of China are dwarfed. The surge in October may reflect a temporary strain in the supply of aluminum ingots in eastern China, as aluminum shipments from the Northwest Smelter were replaced by high-priority coal shipments before the winter in China. The real rise in the aluminum industry data is that China has moved from a net importing country to a net exporter of intermediate materials alumina. The export volume of 460,000 tons of alumina in October alone has brought the total output so far this year to nearly 1 million tons. China has never exported so much alumina in the past, and this shift illustrates the tension in markets outside China after the smelter at Hydro's smelter in Brazil is forced to reduce capacity. In contrast, imports of aluminum scrap are steadily declining to cope with the same drivers that affect copper's drivers – higher purity requirements and restrictions on US waste inflows.