- China’s state-owned tabloid The Global Times appears to have confirmed Beijing’s ban on Australian coal
- The country’s top economic planner has allowed power plants to import coal without clearance restrictions from a number of countries, “except for Australia”
- While it’s not an official ban, reports like these should be taken seriously since they are typically directly sanctioned by the Chinese Government
- Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Trade Minister, called on Chinese authorities to rule out the report, saying it signifies “the use of discriminatory practices”
- The move is the latest in a string of trade punishments that began after Canberra sought an independent inquiry into the origin of COVID-19
China’s state-owned tabloid The Global Times appears to have confirmed Beijing’s ban on Australian coal, a move that could cost billions and will likely further enflame tensions between the two countries.
According to the publication, China’s top economic planner has allowed power plants to import coal without clearance restrictions from a number of countries, including Mongolia, Indonesia and Russia, “except for Australia.”
Wang Yongzhong, director of the Institute of Energy Economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that China has stable and sufficient domestic coal supply, while having rich import sources.
“Since Mongolia has a geographic advantage that allows lower transportation costs than any other exporters, it could take a large share from Australian coal, as the relationship between China and Australia has been deteriorating and Australia is gradually losing the Chinese market,” Wang said.
“Domestic suppliers can also grab some market share,” he added.
While it’s not an official ban, sources within the Australian government said the reports should be taken seriously since they are typically sanctioned directly by the Chinese Government.
China has unofficially banned Australian coal imports since October, leaving dozens of bulk carriers stranded offshore and stoking a fierce anxiety in the mining industry.
Last month, China cited “environmental quality” problems as the cause for the delays, but this was firmly refuted by Australian officials.
If the freeze is maintained, it could have widespread economic implications for Australia, which last year exported almost $14 billion worth of coal to China.
Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Trade Minister, called on Chinese authorities to rule out the report by The Global Times.
He said if the story is accurate it “would appear to be the use of discriminatory practices against Australian coal.”
“We reiterate that all terms of our free trade agreement and world trade obligations between Australia and China should be upheld and respected,” he added.
Beijing’s decision is the latest in a string of escalating trade punishments that began earlier this year after Canberra called for an independent inquiry into the origin of COVID-19.