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Reverberations from China’s National Sword continue to widen

Global – Although the World Trade Organization has confirmed notification of China’s plans to ban imports of certain recyclables such as vanadium slag and ashes/dross, the recycling industry is urged ‘not to repeat hearsay’ and to ‘wait for the official announcement’. The plea from David Chiao, president of the BIR world recycling organisation’s non-ferrous metals division, is contained in the latest divisional Mirror publication.

BIR’s advisor on China’s regulatory and policy developments Ma Hongchang explains in the Mirror that the country’s ministry of environmental protection has conducted full-scale inspections over recent weeks of industrial enterprises, including recyclers. Checks have been focused on whether companies have passed environmental evaluations, violated rules regarding discharge of pollutants or illegally transferred scrap imports.

China has witnessed a temporary stop on certain scrap import approvals since June 1. ‘Brokers and processors in China are reporting delays in customs clearance, with demurrage charges associated with these delays starting to impact the local scrap market,’ it is stated in the Mirror.

The reverberations from China’s National Sword initiative are widespread. In the USA, for example, certain qualities of Zurik ‘are now being held in inventory as producers look for alternative markets and new processing technology to make a better quality and to further separate its component metals’. The same will also be the case, it is added, for lower qualities of insulated copper and aluminium wire products.

Elsewhere, free trade is said to be ‘under fire’ in Mexico City where the local government has enacted a new environmental code prohibiting but also criminalising ‘peddling’, with penalties potentially including jail sentences. ‘It is not yet clear what the scale of the impact will be on volumes arriving at recycling yards,’ the Mirror reports.

In India, meanwhile, the July 1 introduction of the country’s unifying Goods & Services Tax will mean companies asking suppliers to furnish them with invoices. ‘The cash market has been completely decimated, which has left surplus stocks,’ it is observed. ‘The secondary non-ferrous market has remained quiet in this period of transition.’

Other regions of the world – such as, for example, the Middle East – noted a drop-off in scrap demand from India around the time of the new tax system’s introduction.

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

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