Jan 07, 2021 07:40 PM

China’s Seaborne Coal Imports Fell 15% in 2020

What’s new: A new report by logistics service provider Elane Inc. estimates China’s coal imports by sea last year fell 15% year-on-year to 240 million tons, mainly caused by the decline in the volume imported from May to October. The volume of coal imported returned to growth of 15% year-on-year in December.

Imports from China’s top two suppliers Indonesia and Australia both dropped 19% last year from 2019, to 130 million tons and 68.05 million tons, respectively. However, imports from Russia rose 17% year-on-year during the same period to 19.7 million tons.

What’s the background: The slump in coal imports came as the government tightened regulations in May. One coking coal trader at Hebei province’s Jingtang port told Caixin that authorities required them to “import coal strictly in accordance with monthly import quotas.”

There were no specific standards limiting coal import volume in previous years, a coal analyst told Caixin, adding that imports usually increase when demand for power increases in order to bring down prices.

A report published by Essence Securities on Saturday said new import quotas will be given out this month, which could ease the tight supply.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full Caixin article in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Lu Yutong ( and editor Marcus Ryder (

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