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China semi-finished aluminium exports fall for 3rd straight month

[BEIJING] China's semi-finished aluminium exports fell for a third straight month in August as punitive duties imposed by the United Sates and India on Chinese aluminium foil leave manufacturers struggling to find alternative markets.

Semi-finished exports stood at 360,000 tonnes last month, according to final customs data published on Tuesday, down 3.2 per cent on the same month a year ago and down 7.7 per cent from 390,000 tonnes in July.

The monthly export figure is the lowest since February 2017.

For January-August, semi-finished exports came in at 2.88 million tonnes, up 5.2 per cent year on year, customs data showed.

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Aluminium foil exports, which are included in the semi-finished category, stood at 93,400 tonnes last month, down 4.9 per cent year on year, customs data showed. That figure - also the lowest since February - was down 6 per cent from July's 99,408 tonnes.

January-August foil exports stood at 794,907 tonnes, up 10.1 per cent year on year.

The US Commerce Department last month announced a preliminary decision to impose countervailing duties ranging from 16.56 per cent to 80.97 per cent on imports of Chinese aluminium foil, giving Chinese exporters little incentive to ship the product to the United States.

Some Chinese aluminium firms have lodged a legal challenge against the duties, however.

Paul Adkins, managing director of consultancy AZ China, said the decline in exports was "certainly indicative that the tariffs imposed are having some sort of an effect".

"But if you take that factor out, then the figures haven't moved that much," he said.

"Overall, the volumes are still quite strong."

China's exports of aluminium bars, rods and profiles slumped by 29 per cent year on year, which Mr Adkins said was possibly related to US tariff action on Chinese aluminium extrusions.

But aluminium plates, sheets and strips notched a 15 per cent year-on-year increase to 175,010 tonnes.

A decision from Washington on whether to impose additional anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese aluminium foil is due in early October. India slapped anti-dumping duties on Chinese aluminium foil in mid-May.

REUTERS