As compared to the first half of 2017, U.S. shipments of all scrap commodities to mainland China during the first half of 2018 declined by more than 3 million metric tons to around 4.8 million metric tons, representing a loss of more than $670 million in export sales.
U.S. exports of nonferrous scrap metal have been adversely impacted by the full range of Chinese trade measures including import tariffs, tighter “carried waste” thresholds, restricted and inconsistent pre-shipment inspections, and more. According to Census Bureau trade data, U.S. exports of copper and copper alloy scrap to mainland China plunged to less than 15,000 metric tons in June 2018, as compared to more than 55,000 metric tons shipped in June 2017. For the first 6 months of 2018, U.S. copper scrap exports to China declined 38 percent by volume year-on-year to just under 215,000 metric tons:
U.S. aluminum scrap exports to China, including remelt secondary ingot and used beverage containers, also dropped sharply in June 2018 to just over 37,000 metric tons, as compared to the nearly 63,000 metric tons shipped to China in June 2017. During the first half of 2018, the United States shipped approximately 315,000 metric tons of aluminum scrap to China, down 20 percent as compared to the first half of 2017:
As compared to the downturn in Chinese import demand for nonferrous scrap, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico, and Taiwan were among the strongest growth markets for U.S. nonferrous scrap metal (including copper, aluminum, nickel, lead, zinc, and tin metal scrap) in the first half of 2018: