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Iron ore, coal boost Australia-China trade 8.8 percent

Coal shortage causes power cuts in China: state media
Beijing (AFP) Dec 20, 2010 - A severe coal shortage has forced power cuts in many regions in China as demand surged due to a cold snap across large swathes of the nation over the past week, state media reported Monday. In the northern province of Shaanxi, 14 major thermal power stations only had four days worth of coal stocks left, with reserves at two power stations already running out, the Global Times said. Many plants and residents in Shaanxi had received notice of impending blackouts, with a 12,000-household compound in the provincial capital of Xian facing power cuts for the next 10 days, it added.

Similar shortages have also gripped other provinces including coal-rich Shanxi in the north and Henan in central China, as well as the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, the report said. China, which overtook Japan in the second quarter to be the world's second largest economy, relies on coal for 70 percent of its fast-growing energy needs and coal combustion has become one of the main sources of its air pollution. Experts have blamed the shortages on soaring coal prices, insufficient logistics facilities and increasing transportation costs, the Global Times said. Some power cuts may be unrelated to the coal shortages, as local governments struggle to meet the annual energy efficiency targets set by Beijing, the China Daily said Monday.

China has sought to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product -- so-called carbon intensity -- by 20 percent by year's end from 2005 levels. A 15.6 percent reduction was realised from 2006 to 2009, officials said previously. But the figure increased 0.09 percent in the first half of 2010 year-on-year, signalling the difficulties in meeting the 2010 target. At global climate talks in Copenhagen last year, China pledged that it would reduce carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Dec 22, 2010
Booming iron ore and coal exports boosted commerce between Australia and top trading partner China by 8.8 percent this year and more than trebled it over the past decade, data showed Wednesday.

The trade department said China remained Australia's largest export market with total shipments growing to 90.3 billion dollars (89.7 billion US) -- 17.6 percent of total trade -- over the 12 months to June.

"Over the last decade, the share of Australia's two-way trade in goods and services with China (has) increased rapidly, from just 5.1 percent in 1999-00 to 17.6 percent in 2009-10," the office said.

Emerging powerhouse China accounted for 20.6 percent of total exports and 14.7 percent of Australia's imports.

It also became Australia's top export market for services for the first time, growing by 13.4 percent to 5.8 billion dollars in 2009-10.

Iron ore, the key ingredient of steel, accounted for nearly half of exports to China in 2009-2010, worth 25 billion dollars out of a total of 52.3 billion. Other important exports included animal products and wheat.

Asian demand for its raw materials helped Australia become the only advanced Western nation to weather the global downturn without going into recession, and is driving a once-in-a-century mining boom.

Australia's export volumes grew 5.3 percent but their value fell 10.6 percent to 254.2 billion dollars due to a "sharp drop in prices in the first half of 2009-10 as demand from our key Asian markets softened," the office said.

"However commodity prices rebounded strongly in the last quarter of 2009-10," it added.

The value of two-way trade with all countries fell 8.7 percent to 512.2 billion dollars in 2009-10.

Japan was Australia's second-largest trading partner, accounting for 11.5 percent of total trade worth 58.9 billion dollars, followed by the United States, valued at 48.9 billion dollars and 9.6 percent.

Japan was also Australia's second-largest export market, though its share dropped 29.1 percent to 39.0 billion, dominated by coal, iron ore, aluminium and beef.

India ranked third in exports with a 5.3 percent increase to 19.8 billion, led by gold, coal copper and other metals. It was Australia's fifth-largest trading partner overall.

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