China, the world's biggest user and producer of coal, increased purchases of the fuel from overseas by 34 percent last year as its economy expanded.
Imports rose to 51 million metric tons last year from 38.24 million tons in 2006, the Beijing-based Customs General Administration of China said yesterday. China ended 2007 a net exporter of 2.2 million tons of coal after shipping 53.2 million tons abroad, Bloomberg News reported.
"It is expected," said Shanghai-based Donovan Huang, a coal analyst with Nomura Securities. "The underlying trend is what's important, we're seeing a sharp drop in exports."
He expects China to be a net importer of 15 million tons of coal in 2008.
China, the fastest-growing major economy, became a net importer of coal for the first time in January last year, cutting shipments to Asian customers.
(Shanghai Daily January 16, 2008)