China's Aluminium Imports Remain Unabated
Noted columnist Mr Andy Home wrote for Reuters that world’s largest producer China seems to be running short of aluminium as it continues from the international market. China started importing primary aluminium in the second quarter of 2020. It was the first time the country had tapped international markets since the Global Financial Crisis. Imports remained strong in the first two months of 2021, China sucking in another 245,000 tonnes of primary aluminium and 141,000 tonnes of alloy. This new alloy trade is dominated by Malaysia, which has emerged as a processor of lower-grade scrap now banned by the Chinese authorities. A similar phenomenon is taking place in the copper scrap sector. Chinese alloy imports, in other words, may be here to stay.
China’s pull on aluminium from the rest of the world is reducing the surplus built up during last year’s manufacturing collapse and therefore the amount of metal now available for restocking. It is also having an indirect influence on availability for European and US manufacturers.
The cumulative net draw on primary metal from the rest of the world now stands at 1.3 million tonnes, compared with 1.5 million tonnes during the 2008-2010 period. China turned net importer of alloy only briefly back then but this time around the shift to net importer status looks more structural with the cumulative tally standing at 1.1 million tonnes since the start of 2020.