As the US prepares to impose a punitive tariff on imports of Russian aluminum, traders will be watching for a response from the London Metal Exchange — the home of the global benchmark price. A recent precedent in the UK suggests any impact is likely to be minimal.
When the UK imposed tariffs on Russian metal last year, the LME responded by banning new deliveries of Russian metal into its warehouses in the UK. The move was largely symbolic, because there wasn’t any metal in UK warehouses produced by the affected brands.
The US is preparing to slap a 200% tariff on Russian-made aluminum as soon as this week to keep pressure on Moscow as the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine nears, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
Should the LME ban deliveries of aluminum into LME warehouses in the US, it would have little market impact, since almost all of the LME’s aluminum stocks are held in Asia. Out of global aluminum stocks of 390,200 tons, less than 1% is located in the US. What’s more, the LME’s off-warrant stock reporting on the LME-deliverable metal held outside its system similarly shows just 2,353 tons of off-warrant aluminum in the US.
An LME spokesperson said: “The LME has robust procedures and the necessary powers in place to take any action that may be required to ensure market stability in response to tariffs that impact the LME market.”