US import tariffs fail to impact Chinese shipments
China's aluminum exports inched higher and steel shipments jumped in April, customs data showed on Tuesday, as US import tariffs failed to dent overseas shipments from the world's biggest producer of the two metals.
The US imposed a 25 percent duty on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, effective from March 23.
The impact of the tariffs on aluminum was offset by US sanctions on giant Russian producer Rusal that caused a spike in international prices, prompting Chinese firms to send more metal abroad, analysts said.
"Exports are still happening, which suggests the tariff is not really having a material impact at this point," said Lachlan Shaw, a metals analyst at UBS in Melbourne.
"Certainly, anecdotal reporting from within the US aluminum products manufacturing sector suggests that some fabricators are just paying the tariffs to secure the required imports. So it appears that trade is holding up for now," he added.
China's unwrought aluminum and aluminum product exports came in at 451,000 tons in April, up 0.2 percent from a revised 450,000 tons in March and up 4.9 percent from 430,000 tons in April 2017, the General Administration of Customs said.
Steel exports jumped 14.7 percent from March to 6.48 million tons, their highest level since August 2017, and steady with a year ago.
The US accounts for around 14 percent of China's aluminum exports, but only 1 percent of its steel exports.
Washington imposed sanctions on Rusal, the world's second-biggest aluminum producer, on April 6, causing London Metal Exchange aluminum prices to climb 12.5 percent in April on fears of a supply shortage.
Shanghai aluminum prices rose only 4.8 percent in April in a well-supplied Chinese market, with the wider price arbitrage making Chinese exports more profitable.