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China would waive import tariffs for Australian coal under FTA

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World Coal,

China has apparently agreed to exempt Australian coal from new import tariffs under a proposed free trade agreement (FTA), according to reports in the Australian media (see here and here), after ministerial level talks between the two countries.

China recently took many by surprise when it reintroduced a 3% tariff on metallurgical coal and 6% tariff on thermal coal imports. The move would have left Australia’s coal out in the cold, as coal exports from its closest rival – Indonesia – are covered by an existing FTA.

The news will give fresh impetus to FTA negotiations between China and Australia, which Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, hopes to have wrapped up by the time the G20 leaders meet next month.

The Australian treasurer, Joe Hockey, and his Chinese counterpart, Lou Jiwei, met ahead of this week’s get together of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers in Beijing.

"Once we have an FTA, it will be abolished. The quicker we get an FTA, the quicker the tariffs will go," Hockey said after meeting Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei in Beijing on Tuesday. "I think on both sides we are now more determined to get this done. I suspect it has caused some embarrassment to some people in China and it is a source of frustration for us, but there is a way through."

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