China 2023 copper imports decline amid rising domestic output

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s copper imports declined 6.3% in 2023, customs data showed on Friday, as domestic production increased and a firmer U.S. dollar raised import costs.

Imports of unwrought copper and copper products were 5.5 million metric tons last year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. The data includes anode, refined, alloy and semi-finished copper.

The metal is used widely in the construction, transport and power sectors.

The exit from China’s strict COVID-19 measures in 2023 enabled local copper producers to ramp up output and also to bring new projects online.

The country produced 11.81 million tons of refined copper in the first 11 months of last year, up 13.3% from the same period in 2022, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

That led to a surge in raw material consumption. China’s imports of copper ore and concentrate in 2023 hit a record high of 27.54 million tons, up 9.1% from 2022, customs data showed.

In addition to the rising domestic output, a strong U.S. dollar last year curbed demand for imports of the metal because it made the greenback-priced product more expensive to buy.

In December, China’s copper imports were 459,338 tons, down 16.6% from November when imports rose to the highest level in almost two years.

(Reporting by Siyi Liu and Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Jamie Freed)