China's Imports of Russian Coal Drop 21.6% in March 2024 Amid Restored Duties

China's coal imports from Russia fell 21.6% in March 2024 due to sanctions, while imports from Mongolia and Australia rose, highlighting the impact of global trade dynamics on the world's largest coal consumer.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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China's Imports of Russian Coal Drop 21.6% in March 2024 Amid Restored Duties

China's Imports of Russian Coal Drop 21.6% in March 2024 Amid Restored Duties

China's imports of Russian coal decreased by 21.6% year-on-year to 6.92 million tons in March 2024, following a 22% decline in January-February. The drop in Russian coal shipments to China was attributed to the restoration of import duties and U.S. sanctions on top Russian coal exporters Suek and Michel, which forced exporters to reduce prices.

China's overall coal imports in March were flat compared to the previous year due to oversupply and low domestic prices, with many buyers only taking imported coal they had already purchased under long-term contracts. Indonesia remained the biggest supplier of coal to China during the month, with shipments falling 9.9% to 19.8 million tons.

Imports from Mongolia, mostly coking coal used for steelmaking, rose 11.9% from a year earlier, supported by improved overland transportation logistics. Chinese imports of Australian coal also rose 130% in the month, boosted by Australia's tariff-free status and a low base effect.

Why this matters: The decline in China's imports of Russian coal highlights the impact of sanctions and tariffs on global coal trade. As the world's largest coal consumer and importer, China's shifting coal import patterns can significantly influence the global coal market and the economies of major coal-exporting countries.

The flat overall coal imports in March, despite the drop in Russian shipments, underscore the challenges faced by the Chinese coal industry, including oversupply and low domestic prices. The increased imports from Mongolia and Australia suggest that these countries are benefiting from the reduced Russian coal imports and the improved transportation logistics.

Key Takeaways

  • China's imports of Russian coal fell 21.6% in March 2024 due to sanctions.
  • China's overall coal imports were flat in March due to oversupply and low prices.
  • Indonesia remained the biggest coal supplier to China, with shipments down 9.9%.
  • Imports from Mongolia and Australia increased, benefiting from reduced Russian coal.
  • The decline in Russian coal imports highlights the impact of sanctions on global trade.