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UPDATE 1-China's remains net aluminium importer as August shipments surge

(Updates with background)

SHANGHAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) - China remained a net importer of aluminium for a second consecutive month, with August imports surging eight-fold from a year earlier as traders took advantage of lower overseas prices.

Imports of unwrought aluminium and aluminium products into China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of the metal, came to 429,464 tonnes last month, the highest in more than 11 years, the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.

August imports were the highest monthly tally since April 2009, beating July’s strong reading. Imports rose from 52,121 tonnes in August 2019, and were up 9.8% from July this year.

Import volumes were higher than its export total of 395,424 tonnes for August.

China’s monthly aluminium imports had been seeing year-on-year gains since May as price arbitrage made it cheaper for domestic buyers to source overseas metal.

Shanghai aluminium prices had risen sharply in April and May as China recovered from a coronavirus-related demand collapse, and are currently trading around over two-year highs.

Sluggish consumption in the rest of the world had capped prices of the metal on the London Metal Exchange.

The spread between Shanghai and London cash aluminium prices had created an arbitrage opportunity for aluminium imports into China from overseas.

Customs is due to release a breakdown of imports by origin and type of aluminium and other commodities on Friday. (Reporting by Emily Chow, editing by Louise Heavens and Kim Coghill)

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