World coal seaborne trade increased by 1.5 percent last year due to a recovery in output in producer countries such as the United States, Russia and China and an accompanying rise in export activity, German coal importers lobby VDKI said on Friday.
VDKI (Verein der Kohlenimporteure), whose 70 member companies trade hard coal across the world, put imports and exports last year at 1.143 billion tonnes, up from 1.126 billion tonnes in 2016
The figures were given in a speech by managing director Franz-Josef Wodopia, delivered at the group's annual reception in Hamburg and made available to Reuters
Preliminary figures showed the United States raised last year's coal exports by 60 percent, Russia increased
them by nearly 7 percent and South Africa by more than 7 percent, he said, but did not give total numbers
Colombian exports fell 4 percent and Australia's nearly 6 percent, he added
The latter was hit by cyclone Debbie, which cut coking coal output for steelmaking while Australia
's steam coal exports, mainly for power generators, remained nearly steady
As for world coal production, VDKI said the United States saw a 7 percent rise, China added 2 percent and India 3.2 percent in 2017
Looking ahead, Wodopia said that, price-wise, China remains in the driving seat as the size of its domestic production determines how much landed coal the country needs to import. This largely governs the global trade balance
The International Energy Agency last month said global coal demand will be subdued for the next five years, but with regional differences
"So far, persistent demand in Southeast Asia continues to offset declining tendencies in the Atlantic and supports coal prices," Wodopia said.
Reporting by Vera Eckert