According to numbers recently released from the People’s Republic of China, aluminium semis exports rose in the month of May by 1.4% month-on-month and 2.9% year-on-year. The rise to 374,000 metric tons of exported semis is attributed to a corresponding rise in flat-rolled products by 5% month-on-month to 155,000 metric tons, and aluminium foil exports by 6% month-on-month to 102,000 metric tons. Extrusions went up as well by 5% year-on-year to 102,000 metric tons.
Net exports of aluminium semis have fallen overall between January and May (inclusive) by 8.8% year-on-year to 1,680,000 metric tons, down from 1,814,000 metric tons in January through May of last year. However, when compared to last month, net exports rose slightly, by 0.7% to 342,000 metric tons in May. Net exports are up 4.2% year-on-year, per Chinese customs numbers.
China’s exports of aluminium semis fell in the period of January through April by 10.7% year-on-year to 1,305,000 metric tons, down from 1,450,000 metric tons in 2015. Driving the decrease in exports was a corresponding drop in flat-rolled products of 32% year-on-year, less 244,000 metric tons for a total of 532,000 metric tons in January through April. The United States is the main recipient of Chinese flat-rolled products (importing 21% of China’s production of same), and it imported 114,600 metric tons in the period, which represents a drop of 7.6% year-on-year.
In contrast, exports of extrusions has risen in January to April by 29% year-on-year, by 89,000 metric tons to 384,000 metric tons. Vietnam is the recipient of the majority of China’s extrusions, receiving 169,900 metric tons during January through April (representing 44% of China’s total output), up from 63,800 metric tons in the same period of 2015. As has been detailed in these pages, a significant amount of the increase may well be the result of the illicit trade in fake semis, or aluminium products sold as semi-fabricated from China, then melted down and re-sold as ingots.