A Fourth Estate® Service

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

China Indefinitely Blocks Australian Coal Exports

China has formally blocked exports of Australian coal, the latest trade dispute between the two countries in months.

China has formally blocked exports of Australian coal, the latest trade dispute between the two countries in months.

Chinese state-owned media outlet The Global Times reported last Dec. 13 that the National Development and Reform Commission of China approved 10 power plants to import coal “without clearance restrictions, except for Australia.”

“The relationship between China and Australia has been deteriorating and Australia is gradually losing the Chinese market,” Director Wang Yongzhong of the Institute of Energy Economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, as quoted by The Global Times.

“An absence of Australian coal in China is actually beneficial to all other market suppliers,” Yongzhong also said.

The decision has thrown Australia’s $14 billion coal export industry to China into turmoil, placing pressure on the exporters and the government to find other markets.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham called on China to “immediately rule out the reports.”

“The easiest way for China to deal with this is to simply make it clear that it’s not true,” Birmingham said.

Birmingham said that although he tended not to believe Chinese state-owned media, he has observed Australian coal disruptions.

“A number of vessels have been delayed in terms of offloading Australian coal into China for a considerable period of time,” Birmingham said.

“We reiterate that all terms of our free trade agreement and world trade obligations between Australia and China should be upheld and respected,” Birmingham also said.

The Australian coal ban comes after months of trade disputes between the two countries, including disruptions of Australian exports of wine, timber, and cotton.

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