Rusal raises China aluminium exports with Australian government

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Reuters – Top global aluminium producer Rusal said it has raised China's swelling aluminium exports with the Australian government, and wants the issue tabled at the next meeting of the world's top customs body.

John Hannagan, chairman of Rusal Australia, and a director of the Australian Aluminium Council, said he had alerted the Australian government to China's rising exports.

"I have contacted both Customs and the Trade minister's office seeking to have the matter of China semis … put on the agenda of the next meeting of the World Customs Organisation," Hannagan told Reuters.

China is the world's top producer and consumer of aluminium, as well as semis, semi-manufactured shapes used in everything from window frames to beer cans.

Exports of primary aluminium ingots attract heavy export duties in China, but producers have been sidestepping the tax and other costs by ramping up shipments of lightly processed metal, which is often remelted at its destination.

Swelling semis exports have seeped into Asia, hurting the export markets of regional producers such as Australia, as well putting downard pressure on prices and premiums – the surcharge paid to obtain physical metal.

China's exports of aluminium products grew about 19% last year, a trend expected to continue in 2015, given Chinese domestic prices compared with international markets.

Benchmark London Metal Exchange aluminium prices have fallen around 15% in the past three months while high global aluminium premiums – the delivery cost to obtain metal – have begun to crumble.

China's primary aluminium exports attract a 15% tariff on top of a 17% VAT, however exports of semi-manufactured shapes don't attract the tariff, and are eligible for a 13% VAT refund, making them more competitive.

The World Customs Organisation is a Brussels-based body that represents 179 customs administrations governing around 98 percent of world trade. It is involved in the definition of goods for the application of tariffs, according to its website.