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US aluminum imports grow due to aging mills: analyst

Keywords: Tags  aluminum, aluminum imports, Kamil Wlazly, Metal Bulletin Research, Everdeen Mason

NEW YORK — U.S. aluminum imports are growing as domestic mills become too old to compete with foreign mills, Metal Bulletin Research analyst Kamil Wlazly said June 20 at AMM’s Aluminum Summit.

"We can see the increased imports of foil to the U.S. because as foil mills are aging they are increasingly uncompetitive in global markets, and we expect that to continue," Wlazly said.

Wlazly expects aluminum demand to rise in the United States and internationally through 2014 as the global economy grows, primarily due to manufacturing, he said.

The growth in car production and sales in emerging economies will have the biggest effect on the aluminum market as manufacturers increasingly use the metal, Wlazly said. China has replaced the United States as the world’s largest car consumer.

"The growth in aluminum usage in the car industry will be driven by the combination of a rise in the volume of cars produced and an increase in aluminum content per car," he said, noting that there is more demand for heat-treated aluminum body sheets, and that will increase tenfold by 2020.

Wlazly discussed the growth in Chinese production of cars and construction, as well as the increase in production of extruded and flat-rolled aluminum, to meet those demands.

The Asian country is also exporting more goods around the world, including to North America, despite U.S. anti-dumping laws introduced in 2008. China now ships its aluminum product to the United States through Mexico, Wlazly said.

As China’s economy has slowed, the country’s aluminum stock is at overcapacity, so it will continue exporting primarily extruded products to North America, he said.

Editor's note: This story was updated June 26, 2013. Due to a reporting error, an earlier version misstated the market that Wlazly identified would be most effected by the growth in car production and sales in emerging economies.

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