News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Coal hit again as China resumes import tariffs; shock coal decision throws Australian free trade talks into turmoil; and ANU’s Santos blacklisting a disgrace and jobs threat, says Abbott minister.

Lou Caruana

Coal hit again as China resumes import tariffs

China, the world's top coal importer, will levy import tariffs on the commodity for the first time in nearly a decade in its latest attempt to support ailing domestic miners, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The sudden move by China to levy import tariffs of between 3% and 6% from October 15 is set to hit miners in Australia and Russia – among the top coal exporters into the country.

It is not clear if exporters in Indonesia, the second-biggest shipper of the fuel to China, will be subject to the tariffs since a free trade agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) means Beijing has promised the signatory nations zero import tariffs for some resources.

Free trade talks in turmoil

The crucial final stages of free trade talks between Canberra and Beijing have been thrown into turmoil following China's shock decision to impose harsh new tariffs on Australian coal supplies, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The sudden reversion to protectionism is designed to save the local coal industry and will see all coking coal imports hit with a 3% price hike and double that applied to the lower grade thermal coal attracting an import tariff of 6%.

It comes after intense lobbying from local suppliers dealing local prices at a six-year low.

The China National Coal Association, which had submitted proposals to reduce domestic output, reduce the tax burden and regulate imports, had urged Beijing to act swiftly to support the besieged sector, where 70% of the miners were making losses and more than half were owing wages.

ANU’s Santos blacklist a disgrace, says Abbott minister

Federal Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs said Australian National University’s blacklisting of gas producer Santos and six other resource companies was a threat to jobs, increasing pressure on the university to drop its boycott, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Briggs, the first member of the Abbott government to weigh in on the issue and a South Australian, said he would write to ask ANU vice-chancellor Ian Young “for an explanation and to reconsider his course of action”.

“To publicly denigrate the reputation of one of South Australia’s finest companies is a disgrace,” he said.