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作者: 来源: 日期:2016/9/20 9:06:16

Western aluminium makers face new threat





China Hongqiao, the world’s largest producer of aluminium by output, used its latest annual report to warn that fierce competition in its home market would lead to “survival of the fittest”.

全球产量最大的铝生产商中国宏桥(China Hongqiao)利用其最新的年度报告发出警告称,本土市场的激烈竞争将导致“适者生存”。广州翻译公司。


At the vanguard of China’s dominance of the global aluminium industry, Hongqiao appears to be thriving: in March the privately owned company set out plans to expand production capacity to 6m tonnes by the end of this year — 33 per cent more than the combined output of its US rivals in 2015.



These ambitious plans help explain why US and European aluminium producers fear their Chinese competitors could undermine a tentative recovery in the price of the lightweight metal this year. This is because western producers say excess production by Chinese rivals was a key factor behind falling prices between 2011 and last year.



Any fresh deterioration in the aluminium market — the rebound has been attributed to a limited increase in demand allied to some cuts in production in certain countries including China — would have significant repercussions for producers including Alcoa of the US, Norway’s Norsk Hydro and Russia’s Rusal.

铝市场任何新的恶化——此轮反弹被归因于有限的需求增长加上包括中国在内的某些国家减产——都会对美国铝业(Alcoa)、挪威海德鲁(Norsk Hydro)以及俄罗斯铝业(Rusal)等生产商产生显著影响。


Furthermore, Chinese producers are set to become even more potent competitors by pushing into production of high quality aluminium for industries including aerospace and automotive. This area has so far been dominated by European and US producers.



Jeremy Wrathall, analyst at Investec in London, suggests European and US aluminium producers are under severe pressure. “Does the west want an aluminium industry or not?,” he asks. “They’ve got to make a decision if it’s of strategic importance or not.”

伦敦Investec的分析师杰里米•拉索尔(Jeremy Wrathall)提出,欧洲和美国铝生产商正承受着沉重的压力。“西方是否想要铝业?”他问道,“他们必须决定该行业是否具有战略重要性。”


The high stakes were highlighted by how President Barack Obama discussed the issue of excess aluminium production by China with President Xi Jinping at a meeting of leaders of the G20 group of nations this month.

美国总统巴拉克•奥巴马(Barack Obama)在本月举行的20国集团(G20)领导人峰会上与中国国家主席习近平讨论了中国铝产量过剩的问题,突显这个问题事关重大。广州翻译公司。


The US and China recognise that due to a weak global economic recovery and depressed market demand, the excess capacity of the . . . aluminium industry has increased and become a global issue requiring collective response,” said a White House statement.



China overtook the US in aluminium production in 2003, and now, globally, produces half of the metal.



Most of China’s production of primary aluminium — the basic, unworked metal — is consumed domestically due to an export tax levied because of the high energy costs of smelting.



Companies such as Hongqiao deliver the metal in liquid form or cast ingots to Chinese customers that turn it into so-called semi-finished products. These include rolled products, such as aluminium sheet used to make drinks cans, and extruded items like girders for the construction industry.



China’s exports of these products have soared over the past decade, reflecting how production far exceeds domestic demand.



Little wonder that European aluminium producers are worried about China’s output, and the impact on prices.



Our concern is one word: overcapacity,” says Maximo Miccinilli, director of public affairs at European Aluminium, which represents the region’s producers. It estimates that China has excess aluminium capacity of 10m tonnes a year currently — five times the EU’s total output.

“我们的担忧可以用一个词概括:产能过剩,”代表欧洲厂商的欧洲铝业(European Aluminium)的公共事务总监马克西莫•米奇尼利(Maximo Miccinilli)称。该组织估计,中国目前铝的过剩产能为每年1000万吨——是欧盟总产量的五倍。广州翻译公司。


In the last 10 years [Europe has] lost one-third of our capacity,” adds Mr Miccinilli. "We had to shut down smelters in Europe and of those that are still operating, most are under serious risk.”



Similar concerns exist in the US, where the aluminium industry has been in steady decline since the financial crisis. Production fell to its lowest level in more than 30 years in June.



Western aluminium producers complain of unfair trade, alleging that some Chinese rivals receive subsidies for electricity costs — the largest single expense in smelting. They also claim Chinese producers are dumping aluminium on the global market at lowball prices.



The China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, which represents Chinese aluminium producers, declines to comment on these allegations.

代表中国铝生产商的中国有色金属工业协会(China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association)不愿就这类指责置评。广州翻译公司。


Western producers now face an additional challenge: Chinese rivals’ ambitions to expand into making higher quality aluminium products for use in aircraft and cars.



What China lacks is high-value added aluminium products for aviation,” says Laura Zhai, analyst at Fitch. “All Chinese companies would want to get a hold of that.”

“中国现在缺少的是用于航空业的高附加值铝产品,”惠誉(Fitch)的分析师翟璐(Laura Zhai)称,“所有中国企业都想打入这一领域。”


A company affiliated to China Zhongwang, the world’s second-largest producer of aluminium extrusions, last month agreed to buy Aleris of the US for $2.3bn including debt.

全球第二大铝挤压型材生产商中国忠旺( China Zhongwang)旗下的一家公司上月以23亿美元(包括债务)协议收购美国Aleris


Aleris specialises in rolled aluminium products for the aerospace and automotive industries, and the takeover “raises very serious concerns for the entire aluminium industry”, says the Aluminum Extruders Council, which represents US producers.

Aleris专业从事面向航空航天和汽车业的铝轧制品的生产。代表美国生产商的美国铝挤压材协会(Aluminum Extruders Council)表示,此次收购“引发了对于整个铝业的严重担忧”。广州翻译公司。


Zhongwang is a state-supported enterprise and has received large benefits and financing from the government of China,” it adds.



But Lu Changqing, president of Zhongwang, says it has always been a private company and has not received any direct or intermediate investment from the Chinese state.



Zhongwang . . . has grown up and developed in a completely market-based process, and in this process, the company has had not special government support and has had no subsidies,” adds Mr Lu.



Yet Zhongwang’s takeover of Aleris could lead other Chinese aluminium companies, both state and privately owned, to hunt for overseas assets, say analysts.



Chinese aluminium companies are looking outside China,” says Charlie Durant, analyst at CRU, a consultancy.

“中国铝生产商正在中国以外寻找机会,”咨询机构英国商品研究所(CRU)的分析师查理•杜兰特(Charlie Durant)表示。


One potential source of relief for western aluminium producers are signs since late last year the Chinese government is willing to tackle excess capacity in the domestic industry.



Some analysts question Beijing’s commitment, but so far this year Chinese aluminium output has fallen by an estimated 3 per cent compared to 2015.



Zhang Bo, Hongqiao’s chief executive, said in March the company would slow its capacity expansion or even suspend output of basic aluminium if demand faltered. However, since many Chinese aluminium producers focused on semi-finished products are privately owned, it could be difficult to control the country’s output of the metal, says Paul Adkins, founder of AZ China, a consultancy.

宏桥首席执行官张波曾在3月表示,如果需求放缓,该公司将放慢产能扩张、甚至暂停生产基础铝。咨询公司AZ China的创始人保罗•阿德金斯(Paul Adkins)称,然而,由于中国很多从事半成品加工的铝生产商都是民营企业,政府很难控制铝产量。


The opportunity for [Chinese industry] leadership and co-ordinated efforts to control overcapacity [in semi-finished products] is extremely limited,” he adds.



Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby and Luna Lin in Beijing

韩碧如(Lucy Hornby)Luna Lin北京补充报道