Officials with National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday that China will continue to curb export of coke, a coal product crucial for making steel.
At the First China International Market Seminar held in Beijing from June 23 to 24, Bi Jingquan, director of economic and trade bureau under the NDRC, said the Chinese government has a strong mind in restricting export of energy products, including coke.
"Quota administration system on coke export will last and we will cut down the quantity step by step so as to maintain the stability of the market," said the official.
Fu Ziying, assistant to the commerce minister, also said at the seminar that China will strengthen control on export of energy products with heavy pollution.
"We will take tight measures in accordance with the WTO (World Trade Organization) rules and domestic laws and regulations," said the official. China boasts the largest producer, consumer and exporter of coke, now supplying 60 percent of the global demand. In early 1990s, China only exported some 1 million tons of coke, accounting for 5 percent of world trade.
Experts warn such a surge both in production and export of coke is beyond carrying capacity of China, which is now suffering a shortage of energy and rising environmental protection pressure.
"Making coke consumes China's rare coking coal and creates a lot of pollution, even at the cost of Chinese people's health," Bi argued. "Developed countries want blue skies but China has the same right to enjoy health and reasonably protect its strategic resources, such as coal and coke."
Chinese restrictions on exports of coke last year aroused a dispute between China and the European Union. The EU once threatened to launch an action against China at the WTO, saying China's activity forced up world prices to "dizzying" heights.
Based on an agreement reached later, China promised to export at least 4.5 million tons of coke to the EU countries in 2004, no less than that in 2003. The two sides also agreed to hold further consultation on coke trade.
"A healthy and coordinated international coke trade builds on doctrines of equality and reciprocity, which are the ultimate solutions to harmony and stability of the international market," said Chen Haoran, chairman of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exports (CCCMC).
In terms of policy, the Chinese government will not completely deregulate the coke export nor will it forbid the export, said Fu Bo, general manager of Sinochem International Corporation.
To control the export within a proper volume can not only prevent price wars among domestic exporters, but also protect the coke producers in other countries from the impact, he said.
Delegate from Germany-based Thyssenkrupp MinEnergy apparently doesn't worry about China's ongoing quota administration system as it bet both world trade of coke and Chinese coke exports will drop in the future.
The two-day conference was co-hosted by CCCMC and Commerce Department of Shanxi, the northern province which has a third of China's coal deposits. Over 330 delegates from 150 companies in 17 countries, including 70 overseas delegates attended the seminar.
(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2005)