A tidal wave of low-cost aluminium imports squeezed out a 21-percent jump in aluminium exports by Indian producers in the first half of the fiscal year (April through September), but the saturated market blunted sales growth to only 2 percent on the year.
In the opening half of FY 2019, exports of aluminium ingot totaled 772 thousand metric tons, an increase of 134 metric tons over last fiscal year’s first-half total. Smelters say the jump is due to an overall rise in imports, not just those prompted by the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
However, the Aluminium Secondary Producers Association (ASMA) challenged this assertion in a statement to domestic media, arguing that imports not only increased due to the trade war, but that the imports were of benefit to Indian producers.
“The trade war and sanctions of Rusal has opened many newer avenues to them to export metal in other countries where premiums are much higher than MJP (Main Japanese Ports) and also better exports benefits. Vedanta, a prominent exporter, has produced and exported 420,000 tonnes of metal in the first six months of the current financial year in their SEZ (Special Economic Zone) plant alone as compared to 666,000 tonnes in the whole of last year.”
This view is far from the received wisdom of India’s three main producers. Per Vedanta, Hindalco, and Nalco, rising imports are making deep cuts in domestic market share, while the Trump administration’s blanket tariff on aluminium has made exporting aluminium a far more difficult enterprise.
“Overall, in the past seven years, imports have grown at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 12 per cent; as a result of which, the market share for imports in domestic consumption has increased to 60 per cent compared to 40 per cent in FY11. This has been a serious threat for the domestic industry, which invested heavily into upstream capacity over the last few years. Thus, it is left with no choice but to export its surplus production.”
In addition to facing headwinds from aluminium ingot imports, India has witnessed a rise in fake semis imported from China in the period, noting a spike to 68 thousand metric tons.