China increased its imports of primary and unwrought aluminum by 30pc in June to 294,081mt against 225,458mt a month prior and up 1.8pc annually, the country’s Customs data indicated.
According to media reports, Chinese buyers have started switching to overseas metals in the past few months due to price volatility at domestic terminals such as the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) and more favorable prices for the light metal on the LME.
On Monday, the price of ShFE listed aluminum stood at CNY18,975/mt ($2,923.50/mt), which is approximately $500/mt more than today’s LME Aluminium price of $2,425/mt, as has been the case over the past few months. China has tried to mitigate this disparity by releasing state reserves in public auction to the domestic market, but to no avail.
With the profitability in focus, companies are choosing importer material over domestic since the price gap is so large. Moreover, with China trying to cut its carbon footprint as well as energy consumption, its national output has been falling, making the largest aluminum consumer in the world stuck with fewer-than-required volumes.