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Exporters to China urged to focus on regulatory compliance

Global – With China having launched another wave of environmental protection operations, this time under the ‘National Sword’ banner, BIR non-ferrous metals division president David Chiao has urged businesses to ‘ensure scrap shipments to China conform with the country’s environmental regulations’, warning that ‘a single, small incident could trigger much bigger issues for all of our shipments’.

Immediately following the Chinese New Year celebrations, it is reported that the country’s customs authorities began to step up import inspections in a bid to prevent smuggling of electronic, industrial and other wastes. As a result, there has been a slowdown in the release of containers at ports. Recent weeks have also been busy in India, with a lifting of the ‘post-demonetisation doom and gloom’ and its replacement with ‘buoyancy and confidence’.

Certain traditional, cash-driven pockets of trade are still ‘trying to invent ways of getting back into business’ but, to a large extent, ‘people have weaned themselves off cash, using the formal invoicing and banking process for commercial transactions’, it is reported. Elsewhere in Asia, the ringgit has depreciated further against the US dollar and so scrap imports into Malaysia have become restricted to just a few larger buyers.

‘Most Malaysian scrap consumers have refocused their buying programmes on the procurement of domestic raw materials,’ it is observed. According to feedback from the USA, lead battery prices have soared to a two-year high owing to a mild winter as well as to supply/demand issues. Heading south into Mexico, aluminium scrap demand remains healthy but imports have ‘plunged’ thus far in 2017, thereby boosting competition for domestic secondary grades.

Metal merchants in Australasia have noted an increase in volumes over recent weeks, attributed to improved LME quotations and the approach of the financial year-end for many companies. The Middle East has witnessed good availability, especially for copper, as well as a pick-up in aluminium demand from major market India.

Reports from several European countries and regions – including Benelux, France, Italy and Scandinavia – broadly agree on the following: ‘Finding scrap has not been a challenge, but finding a home for that scrap has become a much bigger problem.’

But while copper mills in Germany are keeping their doors closed to scrap following the flood of material late last year, availability of copper scrap is now said to be shrinking. Payment delays are also reported to have become more frequent for the German scrap trade.

The weaker pound, meanwhile, is assisting exports from the UK to the Far East but ‘merchants are now having to book well in advance to secure containers and the costs are as high as they have been for a long time’.

Local demand is underpinning ‘huge’ competition for scrap in Russia, most particularly for copper.

This article is based on the latest Non-Ferrous Metals World Mirror produced by the BIR world recycling organisation for the benefit of its members.

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