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China's aluminum demand to level off around 2023 at 46-50 mil mt: CNIA

Hong Kong — China's aluminum demand is forecast to level off in around 2023 at 46 million-50 million mt on an expected slowdown in consumption, the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association said Thursday.

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CNIA forecast China's per capita aluminum consumption to peak in around six to seven years, around 2023, due to the Chinese economy moving from high-speed growth to medium-to-high-speed growth, putting a brake on aluminum demand growth.

CNIA Director Fan Shun Ke said in a post-industrialization phase, a slowdown in demand growth is common, with China's annual aluminum demand growth seen dipping to around 6% in the 13th Five Year Plan period (2016-20) as against double-digit rates in previous years.

The intensification of the Sino-US trade war is expected to have both a direct and an indirect impact on the Chinese aluminum products sector, causing fewer Chinese exports to the US this year, CNIA said.

CNIA is urging the Chinese aluminum sector to study demand potential in the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia as substitute markets to stabilize and expand exports.

It also urged Chinese producers to build aluminum production bases in densely populated regions overseas to cushion the effect of the trade war.

As of August, China has running aluminum output capacity of 37.71 million mt a year, up from 37.31 million mt/year in July, Shenzhen-based brokerage co Jinrui Futures said in its aluminum report this week.

China's aluminum demand in August is estimated at 3.01 million mt, with surplus of 200,000 mt, compared with demand of 3.15 million mt in July and deficit of 40,000 mt, Jinrui estimates showed.

The brokerage forecast China's aluminum demand in 2018 to be 36.94 million mt, with a 20,000-mt surplus, with 2019 demand seen rising to 39.27 million mt, with 310,000 mt surplus.

State Development & Investment Corp in its Thursday aluminum report the sharp fall in Chinese aluminum prices Thursday was down to poor Chinese economic data and the fall in emerging market currencies in the wake of the Turkish lira's plunge.

Shanghai Futures Exchange's most active aluminum futures contract prices closed at Yuan 14,440/mt ($2,108/mt) Thursday, down from Yuan 14,540/mt Wednesday, SHFE data showed.

--Joshua Leung, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com