By Pratima Desai
LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The EU should go beyond banning aluminium wire, foil, tubes and pipes produced in Russia by sanctioning Russian aluminium metal for a greater impact, industry group European Aluminium said.
European Union members are looking at a proposed 12th package of sanctions, including bans on aluminium wire, tubes and pipes, a small proportion of Russian aluminium imports.
"We regret the fact that the vast majority of Russian aluminium exports to the EU (more than 85% of the total), in particular primary metal, look set to remain outside of the scope of the measures," European Aluminium said in a letter sent to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In the first nine months of 2023, the EU imported almost 500,000 metric tons of Russian aluminium and aluminium products worth 1.26 billion euros ($1.37 billion), Eurostat data shows.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the EU took a cautious approach due to the region's reliance on Russian supplies of aluminium, a key material for European industry.
"However, 21 months later, circumstances have changed considerably. The European aluminium industry has accelerated its decoupling from Russia," the industry group said.
Trade Data Monitor says the EU in total imported more than 2.4 million tons or $6.3 billion worth of unalloyed and unwrought primary aluminium between January and September this year of which 11% came from Russia. This compares with 20% in the same period last year and in 2021.
"The scope of the sanctions must be much broader to have a substantial impact. It should include primary aluminium from Russia," said Pål Kildemo, chief financial officer at Norwegian aluminium producer Hydro NHY.OL
"We need strict anti-circumvention rules to ensure that sanctions are not circumvented by shipping Russian aluminium to third countries and making it into a product that's sold to Europe," Kildemo said.
Russian aluminium is produced by Rusal, which last year accounted for 4 million tons or 6% of global supplies.
In July, European Aluminium sent a letter to its members saying it had discussed the possibility of "actively calling for EU sanctions on Russian aluminium", but not on Rusal RUAL.MM.
(Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Jan Harvey and Alexander Smith)
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