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Russia and China Evade Sanctions by Trading Copper Disguised as Scrap

Russia has been exporting newly-made copper rod to China disguised as copper scrap in recent months-a new trade avenue for the two regimes that has been evading Western sanctions on Russian copper and export and import duties in both countries, Reuters reported on Monday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter and its own analysis on customs data.

Russian Copper Company (RCC), designated by the U.S. and UK, has been engaged in these types of trades since December 2023, which has allowed exports of copper rod to China with the product labeled as 'scrap'. China doesn't have an import duty on copper scrap but it taxes imports of copper rod at 4%, according to Reuters' analysis.    

The analysis has also found that according to Russian customs figures, Russia has sold very little copper scrap to China since December, while Chinese customs data showed a surge in imports of Russian copper scrap.

According to Reuters' sources, the new copper wire rod was shredded to resemble scrap by an intermediary in the autonomous Xinjiang Uyghur region in western China.

"This scrap from Russia is de facto copper rod, but not declared as rod. I cannot disclose any more detail," an anonymous Chinese manufacturing source told Reuters.

In theory, Chinese buyers are not prohibited from buying anything from Russia but they could face the possibility of restricted access to U.S. and Western financing if found dealing with a sanctioned Russian entity, and potential issues with the processing of the payments.  

The reported copper trade is yet another sign of the growing trading links between Russia and China.

Since the West slapped sanctions on many Russian commodity and metals industries and exports, China has stepped up imports of Russia's crude oil, mopping up the barrels that other Asian buyers, such as India, have been hesitant to buy.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.  More


  • Mamdouh Salameh - 15th Apr 2024 at 6:31am:
    Western sanctions are there to be evaded by countries affected by them or by those who don't recognize them anyway like Russia and China.

    The proof of their success is that their bilateral trade in 2023 topped $245 bn or 29% higher than in 2022 and it is on the way to hit $300 bn in 2024.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
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