25 February, 2019
Reuters reported China's northern Dalian ports had banned imports of Australian coal and would cap overall imports for 2019 through its harbors at 12 million tonnes, with Australian miners the only ones to suffer from the import cuts.
Tensions arose in 2017 when Canberra accused Beijing of meddling in its domestic affairs, and the relationship suffered another setback previous year when Australia banned China's Huawei from its 5G broadband network.
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".
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Geng Shuang, has said the decision is related to "environmental protection" and the government "conducting risk analysis". The correlation exists because the Antipodean unit is substantially underwritten by a mammoth bilateral commodity trade with China.
Reports that a key Chinese port was refusing Australian coal imports sent the dollar tumbling yesterday afternoon.
"They are putting pressure on us, along with New Zealand, because of our stances on Huawei", said Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.
The minister tells Chris Smith, "We don't believe that China has banned Australian coal into China or into even a single port".
"We expect and would understand that the trade agreements that we have between Australia and China will continue to be consistently applied".
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Reuters reported that five harbours overseen by Dalian customs, Dalian, Bayuquan, Panjin, Dandong and Beiliang, would no longer allow Australian coal to be cleared.
However, concerns persist over the lack of liquidity in the spot market and therefore its transparency, though the emergence of trading platforms such as Global Coal in recent years have improved things.
Australia is now the world's biggest exporter of Coal and Anthracite, a high-quality and high-carbon-content type of coal.
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"People should be careful about leaping to conclusions about this".
Japanese manufacturing activity contracted in February for the first time in two-and-a-half years as factories cut output amid shrinking domestic and export orders, a private business survey showed on Thursday.
"Sure, this might just be some little local difficulty - administrative problems in China logistically means this can happen - but more likely it may be some political power play at work in a state-controlled economy".
Oil prices made a turnaround from their earlier slip to see gains in the afternoon of Asian trade, with the worldwide benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 0.1 percent to $67.14 per barrel.