SHANGHAI, Sep 28 (SMM) – China imported 429,464 mt of unwrought aluminium and aluminium semis in August. Imports rose sharply 724% year on year and 9.8% month on month, the highest since April 2009, according to customs data. Exports stood at 395,424 mt in August. Imports totalled1,637,294 mt from January to August, up 347% from a year ago. Unwrought aluminium and aluminium semis include primary aluminium, unwrought aluminium alloy and aluminium semis. The surge in imports in August was largely contributed by the sharp increase of primary aluminium and unwrought aluminium alloy imports.
Imports of primary aluminium surged 3863% on the year and 34% on the month to 247,000 mt in August. Imports amounted to 593,000 mt from January to August. Strong domestic demand, high SHFE/LME aluminium price ratio and appreciating Chinese yuan accounted for higher imports. Aluminium plate/sheet, strip, foil and extrusion producers reported stable orders in the low season of July-August, and some large producers purchased imported aluminium ingots when the import window opened. The SHFE/LME aluminium price ratio remained high at above 8, which made imports profitable and resulting in a surge in aluminium ingot imports since May. In addition, the Chinese yuan has strengthened since August.
China's imports of unwrought aluminium and aluminium semis
Meanwhile, imports of unwrought aluminium alloy fell 15% from July, but soared 810% from a year ago to 146,000 mt in August, largely contributed by secondary aluminium alloy. Relatively low overseas aluminium alloy prices in June and July amid severe outbreak of COVID-19 has caused overseas cargoes to flood to China, most of which arrived in August. Imports during the first eight months of the year climbed 806% from the same period last year to 783,000 mt as import restrictions on aluminium scrap tightened raw material supply to secondary aluminium producers and the spread between domestic and overseas secondary aluminium prices made imports more profitable.
Imports of unwrought aluminium and aluminium semis are set to maintain high year-on-year growth in September, in light of open import window and relatively strong domestic demand. SMM survey showed that imported primary aluminium continued to enter the domestic market in mid-September.