China is ramping up coal imports from Russia — but not Australia

China is ramping up coal imports from Russia — but not Australia

BEIJING — As China tries to resolve its energy scarcity, the nation is additionally ramping up its coal imports — bringing in 3 times as a lot coal from Russia in comparison with final yr, China customs knowledge present.

Stories of energy cuts at factories throughout China intensified in September as native governments struggled to stability rising demand for electrical energy with efforts to scale back carbon emissions. Preliminary commerce knowledge confirmed China’s imports of coal surged by 76% from a yr in the past in September to 32.9 million tons.

New customs knowledge out late Tuesday confirmed that a lot of the coal got here from Russia and Indonesia — not Australia. In 2019, the nation had accounted for about 38% of China’s imports of thermal coal, the first gasoline for electrical energy manufacturing.

China’s thermal coal imports surge (2018-2021)

Supply: Wind

China imported about 3.7 million tons of thermal coal from Russia in September, in keeping with customs knowledge accessed via Wind Info. That is up 28% from August and greater than 230% greater than a yr in the past.

The surge is not a one-off. China’s imports of thermal coal from Russia have both doubled or tripled from 2020 ranges each month since Could. The month-to-month figures this yr additionally stay properly above pre-pandemic ranges in 2019.

“This demonstrates that China still needs the global trade system, despite its concerted efforts to reduce its dependence on trade,” mentioned Stephen Olson, senior analysis fellow on the Hinrich Basis, a nonprofit group centered on commerce points.

“It also illustrates the economic costs and dislocations that can be created when trade restrictions are used as a means to apply geopolitical pressure,” he mentioned in an electronic mail.

Despite China’s increased need for coal, the customs agency’s data showed imports of thermal coal from Australia remained zero, as they have been since an unofficial ban took place in late 2020.

Australia was once China’s largest source of imported coal. But political tensions between the two countries escalated after Australia supported an investigation into how Beijing handled the coronavirus pandemic.

China imported 3 million tons of thermal coal from Indonesia last month, up 19% from August and a gain of 89% from September 2020, customs data showed.

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