China’s 2023 aluminium imports surge 28% on high demand and prices

China’s aluminum imports witness a remarkable upswing in 2023, underscoring the nation’s insatiable demand for the versatile metal. The surge reflects a robust economic landscape and a flourishing appetite for aluminum in various industries.

According to customs data released on Thursday, China’s imports of aluminium increased by 28% in 2023 as increased demand and higher prices attracted more shipments into the largest aluminium consumer market in the world.

According to data from the General Administration of Customs, the nation imported 3.06 million metric tons of unwrought aluminium and products last year, including primary metal and unwrought, alloyed aluminium.

Aluminum has long been a reliable material for use in the packaging, transportation, and building industries. Because of its lightweight and resistance to corrosion, it is an essential material in contemporary industries. Aluminium is still in high demand in the construction industry, especially for infrastructure projects, as China continues to rapidly industrialize and urbanize. The demand has also been boosted by the transportation sector’s growing reliance on lightweight materials like aluminium for fuel efficiency.

Macquarie predicted that China’s primary aluminium consumption in the previous year would increase by 3.9 per cent to an astounding 42.5 million tons. Two important industries’ growing demands were cited as the reasons for this growth: solar and automotive. China’s dedication to renewable energy has propelled the solar industry, which has embraced aluminium due to its sustainability and adaptability. The automotive industry’s move to lighter materials at the same time to improve fuel efficiency has also added to the rise in aluminium consumption.

Although China’s aluminium consumption was expected to grow rapidly, the overall global situation was not as favourable. Outside of China, demand shrank by 3.5 per cent, with North American and European markets showing the most weakness. Because of this difference in the dynamics of demand, aluminium prices rose in China, providing a financial incentive for more imports. The benchmark three-month aluminium contract on the London Metal Exchange stayed relatively flat, while the most traded aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange saw an annual gain of 9.1%.

Russia’s increased contribution to China’s surge in aluminium imports is a noteworthy development. Significant increases in Russian metal shipments to China occurred last year; this trend continued as Western companies were reluctant to deal with Russian metal. China imported 1.06 million tons of primary aluminium from Russia in the first eleven months of the previous year, up a startling 178.3 per cent from the same period the year before, according to customs data. During this period, China’s total aluminium imports were made up of an impressive 77 per cent Russian metal, indicating the significant role Russia played in meeting China’s aluminium demands.