Several global reports have cited new talks by Chinese officials toward the idea of ending a nearly two-year ban on Australian coal, in part by choppy supply chain waters.
According to a 14 July Bloomberg report, a proposal will be prepared and submitted to senior leaders with a recommendation that Australian imports resume in Beijing. The impetus: easing tensions, as well as concerns that supplies may further tighten when Western-led sanctions on Russian energy go into effect.
Individuals familiar with the plan also noted that there is a belief European-led curbs on Russian energy will increase competition for coal from China’s main suppliers, including Indonesia.
While it remains unclear if a decision will be made to lift the order, two additional sources told Bloomberg that there are companies already preparing to resume imports.
In addition, they said, officials are seeking to increase fuel supplies to avoid power disruptions again this year.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said 14 July, per the Bloomberg report, that Australia has the opportunity to “build up positive energy and create favorable conditions for sound and steady development between China-Australia trade relations.”
China, which had been a major consumer of Australian coal, first implemented an unofficial ban in late 2020 amid hostilities between Canberra and Beijing over a decision to bar Huawei Technologies from building a 5G network.
While bans included other items, including beef and wine, the removal of Australian coal from its supply chain wrenched already key energy shortages in 2021 on a lack of fuel. According to Bloomberg, removing the ban would give China more flexibility when procuring fuel for power plants or metallurgical coal for steelmaking.
Australia makes up almost a third of total coal exports.