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Australia denies China ban on coal imports amid tensions

Australia denies China ban on coal imports amid tensions

The news follows the Australian government's decision this month to cancel the visa of prominent Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo andthe banning in August previous year of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to Australia's 5G broadband network.

Australian shares gave up early gains, last trading 0.1 per cent lower, but the Australian dollar rallied in the wake of a strong full-time jobs figure.

Mr Birmingham urged caution on the issue as he added: "It's important to reiterate. that we went through a period of some similarity late last year but when all that was done and dusted both the value and volume of our coal exports in that fourth quarter last year to China were significantly higher".

When asked about the reported halt, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang offered general comments that authorities sought "to safeguard the rights and interests of Chinese importers and protect the environment".

An trader based in Guangzhou also said customs clearance for Australian coal imports is taking more than 40 days, much longer compared to other countries.

The EUR/AUD exchange rate is likely to remain sensitive to political developments into next week, and any signs of a development between Australia and China over coal imports, or a consensus emerging from US-China trade talks, could provide some uplift for the "Aussie". "Apparently, they do this all the time at various ports", says Rankin Treasury Advisory principle Derek Rankin.

"We continue to engage closely with industry on matters of market access".

"It is impossible to force China to stabilise the currency and to insist that it embraces genuine markets, which is the other key thrust of the United States demands", says Michael Every, a strategist at Rabobank.

"If that's all we are talking about, the blocking of a couple of months of coal imports, that's not going to derail the Australian economy", he said.




The Dalian port in northern China.

Nobody answered two calls to the General Administration of Customs.

"Those knee-jerk headlines of "Australia's number-one export destination has a ban on Australia's number-one export" were enough to knock the Aussie lower", Callow said.

Other Australian coal miners hit included New Hope Coal, which was down 4.4%, Bounty Mining, which dropped 12%, Chinese majority-owned Yancoal fell 3.7% and Whitehaven Coal was down 1.6%. "The restrictions have been in place for several months now, as inventories and prices spreads have been hurting Chinese domestic producers". That includes five harbors in the northeastern port of Dalian, according to the people with knowledge of operations there.

Dalian's move came after major ports elsewhere in China prolonged clearing times for Australian coal and stoked concerns that Beijing is using trade to punish Australia amid a recent souring of bilateral ties.

China imported 271Mt of coal from January to November past year.

Ironically, despite the Chinese port restrictions that became clearer on Thursday, buying activity among traders picked up, which sent seaborne spot coking coal prices upward. The price difference for thermal coal is about the same.

"It would have a very serious impact on the Australian economy, and I would be concerned about it, and I would act upon it", he said.

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