Finance

China Australia tensions worsen with 80 coal ships left stranded

Australian coal reportedly worth more than $1.1 billion is being held up at Chinese ports because of apparent problems with environmental standards.

Dozens of bulk carriers have been stuck off the Chinese coast for months due to safety and quality inspections that appear to be aimed squarely at Australian exports.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt is working with exporters to resolve the delays.

“We are aware of longer port processing times for Australian coal, particularly at this time of year,” he told AAP on Thursday.

“We continue to engage with industry about the impact that unofficial restrictions are having on resources exporters.”

File image of coal carrying freighters in the Coral Sea. Credit: Getty Images

According to The Australian, there are now more than 80 coal ships stranded off the coast, with 1500 seafarers aboard.

The newspaper reports the move has prompted the ­Morrison government to raise concerns about “discriminatory action”.

The coal delays are the latest in a string of Chinese trade strikes against Australian products, with diplomatic relations in the deep freeze over a laundry list of grievances.

‘Not easy issues’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would work through the trade issues one at a time, but Australia would not bow to pressure or cede its sovereignty.

“We just work the process through with the Chinese government to get the best possible outcome that we can,” he said.

“These are not easy issues … it’s incredibly complicated what we’re dealing with here.”

The prime minister said skilled trade negotiators were working to resolve the disputes.

The coal delays are the latest in a string of Chinese trade strikes against Australian products. File image.
The coal delays are the latest in a string of Chinese trade strikes against Australian products. File image. Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm

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