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Itochu Corp. said Thursday it plans to sell at least 30,000 metric tons of aluminum produced by Emirates Aluminium Co. in Japan and in other Asian markets as buyers seek an alternative to Russian supply.

The trading company acts as a sales agent in Japan for Dubai Aluminium Co., the largest smelter in the Middle East, and began importing the metal from Emirates Aluminium this year, said Yasuhiro Terashita at Itochu’s corporate communications division.

The producer, known as Emal, is a joint venture between Dubai Aluminium and Abu Dhabi state-owned investment company Mubadala.

Disruption in shipments from Russia, the second-largest exporter to Japan, caused a surge in prices last year. Middle Eastern countries, including the United Arab Emirates, are expanding into the aluminum business as their access to cheap fuel enables low-cost production. Emal, which aims to become the world’s largest smelter, began production in December.

“We are allowed by Emal to sell their metal in Asia as we have maintained a long-term business relationship” with Dubai Aluminium, its parent company, Terashita said. Itochu aims to expand aluminum sales in South Korea and Taiwan, he added.

Japan’s imports of refined aluminum from Russia fell 45 percent to 230,713 tons in 2009 from a year earlier, data from the Finance Ministry showed.

Imports from Venezuela also plunged 73 percent to 6,026 tons last year. Industria Venezolana de Aluminio, the nation’s largest state-aluminum smelter, didn’t ship the metal to Japanese stakeholders because it didn’t renew a supply contract with them, according to Showa Denko K.K., the largest Japanese shareholder.

Aluminum producers raised the fee they charge Japanese buyers to the highest level in at least 14 years in the three months that ended March 31, after shipments from Russia dropped.

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