Aluminium exports surge 34% on higher output, fall in consumption

Aluminium exports from India have recorded a sharp rise of 34.02 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) during April-January, 2017-18 on expanding domestic production and fall in consumption at home.
Exports of the metal rose from 0.97 million tonnes to 1.3 million tonnes in the period.

The production of primary aluminium in April-February in the last financial year expanded 5.8 per cent y-o-y from 1.58 million tonnes to 1.67 million tonnes.

“The domestic demand of aluminium has not kept pace with the rising production. This has led to surplus aluminium being exported. Further, exports of aluminium have turned lucrative owing to robust global aluminium prices,” said an industry source.

In April-February, 2017-18, global aluminium prices increased by 22.4 per cent. Aluminium have been buoyed by smelter capacity cuts in China, where the government is cracking down on polluting industries. Production cuts in China are expected to be around 4 million tonnes, which is around 10 per cent of the country's aluminium-making capacity, says a report by CARE Ratings.

The US government's recent decision to levy a 10 per cent import tariff on aluminium is unlikely to affect exports from India to a great degree. Nalco, for instance, is insulated from the US-imposed tariff barriers because it exports mostly to South-East Asia. Domestic players in 2016-17 exported barely 125,000 tonnes of aluminium, mostly ingots, to the US. 

India’s aluminium exports to the US in terms of volume are minuscule compared to those of Canada, China and West Asian countries countries. The country’s share is a measly 2 per cent. On the contrary, Canada, China and West Asian countries account for an overwhelming 73 per cent of the aluminium imported by the US.

India’s aluminium exports to the US are valued at $350 million. This means Indian producers have only a 0.8 per cent share in aluminium exports to the US of the order of $42.2 billion.

The worrying factor for the industry is the continuing rise in imports, especially aluminium scrap. Imports now have a share of 53 per cent in the country’s aluminium consumption. Within the import basket, scrap accounts for 53 per cent.

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