China has increased its steel and aluminum import activity from other countries since June, despite the country’s standing as a leading finished and semi-finished metals exporter.
In June, data from the Chinese government indicated the country reached net imports of about 700,000mt of steel, according to media reports, outpacing its crude steel production that month.
By July 2020 China was a net aluminum and steel importer following a 40,000mt sale in June for a cargo of billets from steelmaker Aceros Arequipa, based in Peru, according to reports. The shipment is scheduled for August loading with late September delivery.
The steel producer revealed this is the first time it has exported steel across the Pacific Ocean prior to its expected rise in production, planned for H1 2021 by means of a furnace expansion, per media reports.
In July of 2020, aluminum imports to China reached over 390,000mt denoting an increase of almost seven times compared with aluminum volumes imported in the same month last year. The country exported under 375,000mt of aluminum in July, which marks the first time since 2009 that China became a net importer of the metal, according to reports.
Producers in China are also importing elevated volumes of copper, which may mean the country could turn net importer of this material as well.
Another possible factor in this trend may be in relation to scrap metal supply. China restricted scrap metal imports this summer because of which, aluminum and copper mill capacity levels remained low during the economic boost.