Levies on U.S. scrap metal, waste paper, and plastics arriving in China began on August 23 after China announced new tariffs on $16 billion of U.S. goods earlier this month. Aluminum scrap was hit with tariffs in April. During the first quarter of this year, around 44,000 tons per month of copper scrap were exported from the United States to China, according to reporting from Reuters. Reuters also reported that Chinese importers have been scrambling to resell shipments of U.S. copper scrap on their way to China, and that they will have to offer discounts to get the unwanted cargo off their hands.
Beijing had already imposed restrictions on waste imports last year, as China attempts to source more recycling material domestically. China’s scrap metal imports decreased by a third in the first half of 2018, according to Reuters, and imported waste plastic dropped to almost zero this year.
U.S. scrap exporters will likely feel the pinch of a 25-percent duty China has imposed on copper and aluminum waste. Some Chinese importers may reluctantly end up paying the 25-percent tariff, in an attempt to mitigate the risk of transshipment.
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