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US becomes No. 2 scrap aluminum exporter to Thailand after China curbs

Tokyo — The US has become the second-largest exporter of scrap aluminum to Thailand in recent months as it searches for alternative buyers outside of China, market sources said Friday.

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Scrap exports to China from the US, Japan and other countries have fallen dramatically since the Chinese government imposed curbs on low-grade scrap imports earlier this year.

The US exported 1,251 mt of scrap aluminum to Thailand in July and 1,247 mt in August, surging from 300-800 mt in previous months, latest Thai customs data showed.

This made the US the second largest scrap aluminum exporter to Thailand after Cambodia, which exported 3,405 mt in July and 2,544 mt in August.

Thailand's total scrap aluminum imports stood at 11,010 mt in July and 9,795 mt in August.

There has be no marked increase in US scrap exports to Japan or South Korea to date this year, based on customs data from these countries.

The US exported 2,160 mt to Japan in July and 1,586 mt in August, remaining in the 1,500-2,200 mt range seen over January-June. To South Korea, its exports stood at 16,400 mt in July and 17,930 mt in August, stable in the 14,000-20,000 mt range seen over January-June.

A Japanese trader said US scrap suppliers were striving to develop new export businesses for zorba and twitch scrap in Southeast Asia, where low labor costs in some markets meant they were more widely to be accepted.

US prices were competitive, the trader said, adding: "We switched to the US for copper scrap sources because there is economic benefit."

The value of Thailand's aluminum scrap imports on a CIF basis averaged 50.43 Baht ($1.56)/kg in July and 52.56 Baht/kg in August, Thai customs data showed. The value of its imports from the US was lower at 50.12 Baht/kg in July and 49.38 Baht/kg in August.

--Mayumi Watanabe, mayumi.watanabe@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com