China customs testing Australian coal imports, reports of ban

Asia shares steady after Fed minutes, Aussie rallies

Tensions arose in 2017 when Canberra accused Beijing of meddling in its domestic affairs, and the relationship suffered another setback a year ago when Australia banned China's Huawei from its 5G broadband network.

"We still expect China stocks to outperform on trade hopes and domestic stimulus", Credit Suisse strategists wrote in a daily note to clients.

In response to the news on China's Dalian port restricting coal imports, Wood Mackenzie's experts provide the following commentaries.

"We do understand that China applies, in some locations, import restrictions and quotas in relation to volume of coal and the application of those quotas combined with different testing, in terms of quality assurance of products and environmental testing and standards, may be slowing down the processing of coal into certain ports across China".

The AUD/USD pair faded an early Asian session bullish spiked to over two-week tops, levels just above the 0.7200 handle, and tumbled to fresh weekly lows in the last hour.

Customs at China's Dalian port have banned imports of Australian coal, with the ban taking effect at the start of February.

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The Dalian Port Group will continue to accept coal from Indonesia and China.

The Australian dollar steadied, boosted by upbeat central bank comments on the economy and government comments on the ban, but was still holding most of its losses from Thursday.

The minister tells Chris Smith, "We don't believe that China has banned Australian coal into China or into even a single port".

Asked whether China had banned Australian imports, he responded: "No, they haven't..." shares lost nearly 2% after The online retailer's reported a more than 8% fall in first-half profit despite higher revenues and also raised its interim dividend.

A steel mill source in China told Fastmarkets MB this week that logistics had become a major factor to consider when making procurement decisions. In recent months, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government agreed to work with the U.S. on a naval base in Papua New Guinea, a move seen as a direct counter to China's growing influence in the South Pacific. China is expected to agree to buy more USA goods as part of a deal being brokered by negotiators in Washington this week.

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"I think people should be careful about leaping to conclusions about this", he said.

"There are a number of things happening in China relating to, how they plan, and moderate, if you like, imports versus their own domestic production", Mr Mackenzie said.

"The potential political nature of this targeted ban after a number of bilateral issues have surfaced. may be reminiscent of the impediments to Mongolia's coal exports to China after the Dalai Lama visit in 2016", US bank Citi said on Friday in a note. Weaker coals make up the majority of Mongolian exports so in the short-term direct replacements for Australian coals would be limited.

CBA commodities analyst Vivek Dhar said the ban as it stands affects only a small percentage of Australia's coal exports, but the fear is the action will spread quickly.

Birmingham said Australia was working hard to get clarity around China's policy positions and to give confidence and certainty to Australian coal companies. We have to wait and see.

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