The stakes have risen in the escalating trade war between the governments of the United States and the People’s Republic of China, as Beijing revealed late Friday that tariffs upon aluminium scrap and copper scrap imported from American sellers will increase by 5 percent in December.
A list of retaliatory tariffs published by the Ministry of Finance included the two increases, which are scheduled to go into effect on December 15. The new 5-percent tariff comes in addition to a total of 50 percent in tariffs assessed against imported aluminium scrap over the course of 2018, while copper scrap is already subject to 25 percent tariffs added on in a previous round of duties.
The tariffs already in place on United States scrap imports have made a significant impact upon import volumes. In the opening half of this year, imported aluminium scrap totaled 229,837 metric tons, down by 16 percent on the year, while imported copper scrap totaled 52,022 metric tons, representing a fall-off of 80 percent from last year’s first quarter.
In addition to rising tariffs, scrap importers are facing import quotas beginning last month. To date, Beijing has issued three sets of quotas on imported aluminium, copper, and non-ferrous scrap totaling 845,953 metric tons, with a total allowed aluminium scrap of 372,476 metric tons, allowed copper scrap of 452,559 metric tons, and allowed non-ferrous scrap of 20,918 metric tons.
The Chinese government has not yet revealed if and when new scrap quotas will be issued for the current quarter.