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US copper scrap exports to China shrink by 40%

US scrap shipments to mainland China declined by more than three million tonnes to around 4.8 million tonnes during the first six months of 2018, compared to the first half of 2017.

According to the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), this represents a loss of more than US$ 670 million (EUR 587 million) in export sales.

US exports of non-ferrous scrap have been ‘adversely impacted by the full range of Chinese trade measures including import tariffs, tighter “carried waste” thresholds, restricted and inconsistent pre-shipment inspections, and more’, says ISRI.

Shrunk volumes

According to the US Census Bureau, US exports of copper scrap to mainland China plunged to less than 15 000 tonnes in June while more than 55 000 tonnes were shipped in June 2017. For the first six months of 2018, US copper scrap exports to China decreased 38% by volume year-on-year to just under 215 000 tonnes. 

During the first half of 2018, the United States shipped some 315 000 tonnes of aluminium scrap to China, down 20% as compared to the first half of 2017.

Growth markets

At the same time, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico, and Taiwan were among the strongest growth markets for US non-ferrous scrap (including copper, aluminium, nickel, lead, zinc, and tin) in the first half of 2018.

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