Aluminum shipments from China, the world’s largest producer and user, rose to the highest level in three years as higher prices overseas encouraged exports of the metal used in everything from aircrafts to window frames.
China shipped 380,000 metric tons of unwrought aluminum and aluminum products in July, according to data released by the country’s General Administration of Customs today. That was the highest since 390,000 tons in July 2011 and up 23 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed.
The premium added to the LME price for immediate delivery at Rotterdam warehouses is at a record $380 a ton, compared with about $200 a ton a year ago, according to Metal Bulletin data. The surcharge doesn’t include European Union tariffs. The global aluminum sheets market will move into a deficit of 579,000 tons this year, increasing to 619,000 tons in 2015, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a report July 23.
“Producers increased exports to pursue profits outside of China,” said an aluminum analyst. “High overseas aluminum premiums are restraining demand from fabricators in Europe and increasing demand of Chinese products.”
Increasing Chinese exports in the second half this year will lower prices in London and narrow the premium over Shanghai contracts, Ivan Szpakowski, a commodity analyst at Citigroup Inc., said in an interview July 31. Exports of Chinese primary aluminum, used as a feedstock for fabricators, are charged a 15 percent duty while shipments of semi-finished and finished metal are not taxed. China also offers tax rebates on exports of some aluminum products.