China September aluminum, steel exports hold steady as trade row goes on

FILE PHOTO - Aluminium heater tubes are seen inside a factory in Dongguan, China April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s aluminum exports fell slightly in September from the previous month as a narrowing price arbitrage to international markets reduced the incentive to ship metal overseas, while steel shipments edged higher.

China’s unwrought aluminum and aluminum product exports were 507,000 tonnes last month, the General Administration of Customs said on Friday, up 37 percent from 370,000 tonnes in September 2017.

That was down 0.6 percent from 510,000 tonnes in August, the data showed. The August figure was revised lower though it remains the second-highest on record and now matches the import numbers for July and June.

China is the world’s top producer of steel and aluminum. The United States has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on Chinese steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports since March 23 in one of the opening moves of the trade war between the countries.

However, a lower yuan has helped Chinese metal exports.

China’s steel product exports came in at 5.95 million tonnes in September, customs said. The figure was up 1.4 percent from a revised figure of 5.87 million tonnes in August and up 15.8 percent from 5.14 million tonnes in September last year.

Steel shipments remained buoyant due to high production levels in China and an arbitrage of as much as $30 a tonne between steel prices in Southeast Asia and China last month, as assessed by consultancy Mysteel, encouraging exports.

Chinese aluminum exports are expected to surge further in coming months after Beijing boosted tax rebates for exports of semi-fabricated aluminum, or semis, to 16 percent from 13 percent with effect from Nov. 1, according to industry consultancy CRU.

Rebates will also increase on exports of stainless steel and steel pipes.

Reporting by Tom Daly and Muyu Xu; editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger