Small Victories
February 2019
Trade pressures continue to push down on the market, preventing increased demand and shrinking stocks from raising prices. As the macro-economic outlook remains uncertain until the resolution of trade disputes between the US, Canada, and China, prices are likely to continue seeing significant downwards pressure.

Despite the addition of new capacity and the lifting of government-enforced production limits, 2019 will not see a substantial reduction in the prevailing supply deficit, providing some upwards pressure on prices and preventing dramatic drops.

In the first three weeks of January, the LME aluminium market price continued its long-term downwards trend, reaching US$1,837.70/t: a decline from December's full-month average of US$1,920.83/t. SHFE prices dropped down to RMY13,327.50/t (US$1969/t), a significant decrease from December's RMY13620.75/t (US$2012/t).

Aluminium prices are predicted to stabilise over the next few years as trade tensions resolve and the long-running aluminium deficit continues—albeit at a reduced pace as additional capacity comes online. Demand will continue to outpace supply in the short term, and the usual drivers of demand--China, and the construction and automotive industries--will continue to push the market forward. Aluminium content in cars has been forecast to increase by over 40% to account for up to 16% of average vehicle weight by 2028.

India's imports of finished and scrap aluminium shot up dramatically over 2018, placing significant pressure on domestic producers.

Producers of both bauxite and aluminium have been petitioning the government to raise import duties or place caps on imports from specific countries to counteract ongoing dumping. Calls for action have intensified in recent months as China has announced it will cut its imports of scrap even further throughout 2019, redirecting yet more recyclable material to other, more open markets.

Guinea, holder of some of the world's largest bauxite reserves, is seeing a surge in overseas investment and exports, with new developments like the Kimbo project—which will increase the country's export capacity by 3Mtpa—growing at a rapid pace.