Q1 Customs Data Shows China’s Illicit Trade in Fake Semis Continues to Grow

Q1 Customs Data Shows China’s Illicit Trade in Fake Semis Continues to Grow
Northeast tower of Forbidden City at night, Beijing, China. Source: Wikimedia

Customs data for the export of aluminium semis from the People’s Republic of China for the first quarter of this year are in. The numbers show an interesting trend – although the total year-on-year exports dropped, the flow into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam increased significantly.

According to numbers obtained by Aluminium Insider, exports of aluminium semis exported from China in the first quarter of 2016 were 361,548 metric tons, which is down 18.5% year-over-year from the first quarter of 2015, when China exported 443,774 metric tons. On a country-by-country basis, exports were down to Thailand by 14.1% from 42,018 metric tons to 36,073, down to the Republic of China (Taiwan) by 14.9% from 8,495 metric tons to 7,226 metric tons, down to Singapore by 15.3% from 16,746 metric tons to 14,190 metric tons.

Shipments to some countries were down significantly in the quarter. Aluminium semis to Malaysia were down 53.0% year-on-year from 61,624 metric tons to 28,979 metric tons, down to South Korea by 59.3% from 114,505 metric tons to 46,591 metric tons, and down even more to Cambodia, dropping off by 62.7% from 1,032 metric tons to only 385 metric tons.

However, exports to Vietnam stand out among the negative numbers. In the first quarter this year, aluminium semis exported to the country jumped significantly, from 106,430 metric tons to 139,039 metric tons. That represents a year-on-year increase of 30.6%. Vietnam is thus the biggest importer of aluminium semis from China, accounting for almost 40% of total exports in Q1 2016.

Although due to the secretive nature of the practice little can be known with certainty, the numbers tend to lend support to the idea that a significant trade in fake semis continues to flourish. The Q1 numbers certainly continue a trend in exports from China to Vietnam, which totalled 463,089 metric tons in 2015. Imports from China alone far outdistanced Vietnam’s demand for extruded aluminium, which was 72,664 metric tons last year.