China relies on coal for 60 percent of its energy needs
China relies on coal for 60 percent of its energy needs AFP / Johannes EISELE

Australia's coal export to China in April has been more than that to Japan, for the first time in four years.

In a significant move that could be seen as an improvement in trade and diplomacy, Australia in April imported 6.87 million metric tons to China in April, up from 6.83 million in March. This was the highest since last November, Reuters reported.

China now overtakes Japan in importing coal from Australia. In April, the shipments of coal to Japan from Australia were 6.10 million tons, the lowest since April 2017.

In 2020, when Australia called for an international investigation into the origin of coronavirus, the diplomatic relation between the two nations suffered a setback resulting in China placing a curb on imports from the former.

Prior to the ban, exports to China had hit a record high of 12.03 million tons. Though China did not place an official ban on imports from Australia, the shipments still dropped to zero. But, the tension did not affect the shipment of iron ore and liquefied natural gas to China.

Diplomatic ties between both the countries have been improving since Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited China in November 2023.

With China back in the market, Australia's coal export to Japan and India has reduced. During China's unofficial ban, Australia was able to compensate for its loss when it found other buyers like India, to which Canberra mainly shipped metallurgical coal.

In April, Australia sent 2.63 million tons of coal to India, down from 3.49 million in March and the lowest since May 2020.

Australia's total coal exports were 28.22 million tons in April, down from 29.58 million in March, but slightly higher than the 28.08 million from April last year.