Tariffs set to hit US scrap exports to China
With the trade war between Beijing and Washington escalating, US scrap exporters will likely feel the pinch of a 25-percent duty China has imposed on copper and aluminum waste.
Levies on US scrap metal, waste paper, and plastics arriving in China begin today (August 23) after China announced new tariffs on $16 billion of US goods earlier this month. Aluminum scrap was hit with tariffs in April.
During the first quarter of this year, around 44,000 tons per month of copper scrap were exported from the United States to China, according to reporting from Reuters. Reuters also reported that Chinese importers have been scrambling to resell shipments of US copper scrap on their way to China, and that they will have to offer discounts to get the unwanted cargo off their hands.
Sims Metal Management and Nucor Corp’s scrap subsidiary are major exporters of US scrap to China. Last year, the US sold $6 billion of scrap to China. Copper scrap exports in 2017 amounted to over half a million tons worth $1.8 billion.
Beijing had already imposed restrictions on waste imports last year, as China attempts to source more recycling material domestically. China’s scrap metal imports decreased by a third in the first half of 2018, according to Reuters, and imported waste plastic dropped to almost zero this year.
Some Chinese importers may reluctantly end up paying the 25-percent tariff, in an attempt to mitigate the risk of transshipment. That’s what happen to a shipment of soybeans stranded off the Chinese coast near the port of Dalian for a month recently. Importer finally took delivery of the commodities and paid the duties.