China lowers coal export levies to boost ailing economy

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China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, is cutting export tariffs for the fossil fuel beginning Jan. 1 and it will also correct those for a range of other commodities particularly some consumer products and parts to make high-tech devices.


The move, which aims to spur domestic demand and promote industrial upgrading, comes after relentless lobbying by the China National Coal Association, as a sharp drop in the commodity price has left about 70% of the country’s miners in the red and more than 50% to owe wages, Reuters reports.

Other items that will see lower tariffs next year include camera lenses and lasers for fiber-optic communication systems, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

Last month the Asian giant signed a free trade agreement with Australia that eliminates a 6% import tariff on power-station coal and a 3% levy on steelmaking coal coming from Down Under.

China’s dependence on coal is well known. Annual consumption exceeded 1 billion short tons per year in 1988 and has exploded since then, to about 4 billion tons last year. This means the Asian giant gets about 70% of its energy from the fossil fuel, a number the government hopes to reduce to 65% by 2017.

In the past three years Australia’s coal industry has experienced challenging times with prices for thermal coal, which consumed by power stations to generate electricity, dropping over 40%. More than 30,000 mining jobs have been lost in Australia this year amid a slump in the price of key commodities like coal and iron ore.

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Henry Sapiecha

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