COLUMN-The spike before the slump? Australian coal exports to China soar in May – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – May 28, 2020)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, May 28 (Reuters) – Australia’s coal exporters are bracing for a slump in shipments to China, making it somewhat ironic that May is likely to be the strongest month in nearly two years for Chinese imports from Down Under.

Traders are expecting that China’s coal imports may fall in coming months amid moves by Beijing to restrict cargoes to protect the domestic mining industry and prices.

While the port restrictions are expected to apply to all coal exporters, including China’s major suppliers of Indonesia, Australia and Russia, it’s also possible that Australian cargoes may suffer more given the ongoing political tensions between Beijing and Canberra.

China has already imposed a ban on meat imports from four Australian processors, a massive tariff on barley that effectively ends the trade, and has threatened other measures amid Beijing’s displeasure at Canberra advocating for an international investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

But while Australia’s coal exports to China may be under the threat of restrictions in coming months, the current month is on track to see the highest level of imports since July 2018.

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