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Coke Controls to Carry On

A senior National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) official said at the First International Forum on Coal, Coke and Chemicals Industry in Beijing on Sunday that the government will control coke exports through measures such as taxation once quotas are removed.

Hou Shiguo, deputy director of the NDRC's Industrial Policy Department, said that though China's admission to the WTO committed it to withdrawing coke export quotas in 2006, "that does not mean it will lose control of coke exports."

China canceled its tax rebates to coke exporters in 2004. The next year, rebates for billet, rolled steel and coal exporters were reduced and those for exporters of electrolytic aluminum, ferroalloy and other products removed.

"This means China is changing its export policy for resources and high-energy consumption products from encouragement to a neutral or restrictive attitude," said Chen Wenjing, vice president of the Ministry of Commerce's Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

With rapid growth of the steel industry in recent years, there has been a boom in demand for coke, a major raw material in steel production.

Hua Zugui, chairman and CEO of China Coal & Coke Holdings Limited, a major coke producer and seller, said that there are more voices calling for coke export reductions for the sake of environmental and natural resource protection.

He suggested that China should hold a responsible attitude, obtain understanding from international coke importers and reduce its coke export volume gradually.

He also said that as a result of the excessive coke surplus yield capacity and control efforts from central government, the industry is likely to see large-scale integration in one or two years.

Li Xinmin, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration's Department of Pollution Control, told the forum that coke companies will face tighter inspections of their environment-protecting capabilities. Those who fail will have their business licenses revoked.

He said that coking coal manufactures unable to meet the country's environmental protection standards will lose their pollutant disposal licenses and be closed down.

In the meantime, he said, speculators aiming to enter the already overheated sector will be put through stricter scrutiny.

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2005)

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