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Christy Clark’s vow to ban or tax thermal coal exports moving through B.C. ports may be nothing more than election brinkmanship, but it seems to be having its intended effect in the U.S.
According to Joe Aldina, a New York based energy analyst specializing in coal for S&P Global Platts, Clark’s recent targeting of thermal coal exports moving through B.C. ports has generated a bit of a buzz in the corridors of Washington.
“I know from my contacts that I was just talking to, already they’re lobbying and having conversations behind the scenes in Washington,” Aldina told Business in Vancouver. “It’s certainly got people’s attention.”
Last week, in response to new countervailing duties of 20% or more slapped on Canadian softwood lumber, Clark wrote the prime minister asking for a federal ban on thermal coal exports passing through B.C. ports, and then added that, if exports aren’t banned, a B.C. Liberal government would apply a levy “so onerous that there’s no percentage in shipping thermal coal through British Columbia.”
Thermal coal exports may be the only real trump card B.C. has to play. Or maybe that should read “Trump card” because U.S. President Donald Trump made the revival of America’s faltering thermal coal industry a major election plank.
“I think it’s pretty smart posturing,” Aldina said. “It grabs headlines and is visible, so I don’t think Trump would want headlines – negative headlines – given that he’s made coal a rallying cry of his administration.”
British Columbia is a major metallurgical coal producer. Historically, it has been the province's second largest single export commodity, next to softwood lumber. Metallurgical coal is used to produce steel. Thermal coal, on the other hand, is burned to produce power.
A handful of American thermal coal producers have managed to find markets outside of the U.S. for their coal, thanks to British Columbia.
There are no ports on the U.S. west coast that can handle large volumes of coal. New proposed coal terminals on the U.S. west coast have been rejected, due to thermal coal's "dirty" image – i.e. high in carbon, and therefore a high emitter of carbon dioxide.
Because of its large metallurgical coal industry, B.C. ports have the capacity to ship large volumes of coal and have increasingly been used by American coal producers, who ship their product to B.C. via the BNSF Railway.
About one third of the volume moved through Westshore Terminals in Delta is American thermal coal, generating $100 million in revenue annually, 100 jobs and $12 million.
In response to Clark’s posturing on coal exports, Westshore has written Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him not to make thermal coal exports a bargaining chip.
“We are deeply disappointed to see the Premier of British Columbia’s call to close our borders to our long-term U.S. customers,” the company says in a letter to Trudeau.
“We recognize that Canada is in a dispute with our most important trading partner, but we hope that our leaders will consider the best interest of all Canadians and not punish Canadian companies and workers by putting one industry ahead of another.”
Fraser Surrey Docks, meanwhile, has been trying to move forward a plan to build a new $15 million coal export terminal that would be used exclusively by American thermal coal producers. It has been stalled by a court challenge, but could be killed with a new levy.
“They’re not even off the ground in terms of booking business with customers,” Aldina said. “It would probably mean a decision of not moving forward with an investment.
“It’s already on the margins because there’s already capacity available at Westshore, so it’s already in a tenuous position. This would really be the death knell for the project.”...
The end of the Labour Day holiday in China saw fresh demand for iron ore and steel, with both commodities rising in tandem today.
Reuters reported that Chinese steel futures rose to their highest in almost a month, supported by restocking demand after the holiday.
The most active rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 2.2% higher at $454 a tonne. Iron ore, a key ingredient in steelmaking, hit $77.28 a tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, a gain of 4.7%. Four days ago the Northern China import price of 62% Fe content ore traded up 2.1% at $68.00.
"After the holiday there's a bit of restocking demand, that's why you see steel prices come up quite substantially and it's reflected in futures," Reuters quoted Helen Lau, an analyst at Hong-Kong based Argonaut Securities. She said market participants are watching closely Beijing's plans to tighten monetary policy, which would make it harder for Chinese steel mills to get loans.
In April iron ore sunk to five-month lows, but the steelmaking raw material is still trading in positive territory compared to this time last year. The recovery comes on the back of higher steel prices in China, which consumes nearly three-quarters of the world's seaborne ore.
Iron ore's fightback comes despite dire predictions for the price outlook.
In a report released last week BMI Research forecasts prices are entering a multi-year slump, averaging lower each year through to 2021. The forecasters expect the commodity to average $70 a tonne this year (year-to-date the average price is just under $82), $55 in 2018, and decline to $46 by 2021, on rising supplies from Australia and Brazil.
The Australian government has announced it will build a second international airport in Sydney.
The A$5bn (£2.9bn, $3.8bn) airport will be located at Badgerys Creek, 50km (31 miles) west of the city's centre.
PM Malcolm Turnbull said the government would take on the project after the operator of Sydney's existing airport turned it down, citing financial risks.
It comes more than 70 years after the idea was first conceived, and follows promises from successive governments.
The current Sydney Airport, 8km south of the city, has become increasingly stretched amid increased demand in recent years.
Decades of debate
Mr Turnbull described the airport as a "vitally important project" for both Sydney and the nation.
"The airport will be a major catalyst for jobs and economic growth in western Sydney, injecting more than A$1.9bn into the economy during the construction phase alone," he said on Tuesday.
"It is expected to deliver 9,000 new jobs to western Sydney by the early 2030s, and 60,000 in the long-term."
The Sydney Airport Group declined its first option to build the airport, citing "risks" to investors including demand and growth potential and construction costs.
The debate on the need for a second airport in Australia's largest city dates back to 1946.
"I think the community wants to see the project come to life as opposed to necessarily worrying about who builds or who operates it," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Details of the plan will be announced next week when Mr Turnbull's government unveils its annual budget.
A crane collapse at a South Korean shipyard run by Samsung has killed six people and injured more than 20 others, says the Yonhap news agency.
Rescuers have been searching for people trapped after Monday's incident at Geoje near Busan.
The victims are understood to be subcontractors working for shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries.
The incident has shocked South Korea which has a relatively low rate of industrial accidents.
The oil platform was being built for French firm Total, for use in its Martin Linge oil field in the North Sea off Norway.
"The crane fell onto the platform's well bay module, where the people were working," Total spokesman Leif Harald Halvorsen told Yonhap.
"For the time being, all work at the yard has been stopped and the investigation is ongoing."
He added no Total employees were among those killed or hurt.
Samsung Heavy Industries is the world's third biggest shipbuilder, and is also involved in other engineering work.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ As of May 1, birth rate of domestic animals stands at 59 percent, reports the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry. Out of 26 million dams counted on the national level, 15.4 million dams have delivered offspring.
15.2 million offspring or 98 percent are healthy, the report says. In specific, 40.7 thousand baby camels, 162.5 thousand foals, 410.4 thousand calves, 8 million lambs and 6.6 million kids are being looked after across the country.
Number of newborns has increased by 2.4 million than the last week.
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry is running an Emergency Staff which is in constant contact with the provinces to provide advices and information on spring flooding, weather events and animal birth.
ULAANBAATAR, May 2 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has postponed a $5.5 billion bailout for Mongolia because of a measure included in the 2017 budget that forces foreign firms to bank with domestic institutions, the IMF's country representative said.
Mongolia's economy has slid into a crisis caused by heavy foreign debt, a collapse in its currency and a slowdown in growth in its biggest trading partner, China. The IMF board had been expected to approve a rescue package at a meeting on April 28.
"The Board discussion was postponed," said Neil Saker, the IMF's Mongolia country representative, in emailed comments, adding that they needed to examine the details of a new measure covering foreign exchange transactions by investors.
The IMF announced in February a $440 million Extended Fund Facility that Mongolia can draw on for three years, in addition to $3 billion from Japan and South Korea and a three-year extension to a 15 billion yuan ($2.18 billion) swap agreement with the People's Bank of China.
In the 2017 budget approved in the early hours of the morning on April 14, legislators introduced tax changes that would allow it to meet conditions set by the IMF.
But it also included a clause seeking to "improve" investment agreements with foreign partners, forcing firms such as miner Oyu Tolgoi LLC, jointly owned by Mongolia and Rio Tinto , to do all their banking with Mongolian institutions.
"We need a bit more time to understand the nature and the specifics of the measure, and whether the macroeconomic framework of the program remains valid," said Saker.
Mongolia's Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond for comment. ($1 = 6.8937 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Parliament Speaker M.Enkhbold received the representatives of the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions upon their request on May 1, Monday.
Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions organized a nationwide peaceful demonstration on May 1, International Workers’ Day. The demonstration began at 12 PM on the not only central square but 21 provincial centers. The aim of the demonstration was to demand the implementation of the 2017-2018 trilateral Agreement on Labor and Society, established between the government, Confederation of Trade Unions and Employers’ Federation.
During the meeting, Kh.Amgalanbaatar, President of the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions said, “There are several issues of public concern such as wage, poverty and economic difficulty”. He expressed the confederation’s solid stance to adhere to the trilateral agreement.
For his part, Speaker M.Enkhbold spoke on the social and economic state of the country and the government’s actions taken to overcome these obstacles. “In order to maintain stability and ensure growth, the IMF program is crucial”, he said.
“I hope you acknowledge the importance of internal stability and mutual understanding in this time”, the Speaker said. The labor union representatives agreed that cooperation based on negotiations is necessary on issues the public is concerned about.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda welcomed the expansion of China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as positive for the regional economy and urged multinational lenders to cooperate in meeting fast-growing infrastructure needs in Asia.
"Infrastructure needs are huge and it's simply not possible for the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to fill the -gap completely," Kuroda, who was formerly head of the ADB, told a seminar hosted by an ADB-affiliated think tank on Tuesday.
He said healthy competition from Chinese, Indian and Japanese initiatives could be positive for improving infrastructure and boosting economic growth and social inclusiveness.
Kuroda's remarks are the strongest endorsement to date by a Japanese policymaker over the growing presence of AIIB, which some in Tokyo see as a vehicle to boost China's regional clout.
The AIIB has been viewed as a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank and the ADB, which is jointly led by the United States and Japan. The United States initially opposed the AIIB's creation and is not a member, but many U.S. allies, including Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia and South Korea have joined.
Japan, following Washington's lead under then-U.S. President Barack Obama, did not join the AIIB as well, partly from concern it would conflict with the ADB, the Manila-based institution dominated by Japan and the United States.
But Kuroda said the establishment of AIIB and the fact it attracted many members were a "good" thing as they help meet rapidly increasing infrastructure-funding needs in the region.
"The ADB has promoted regional cooperation in Asia. It also tried to link regional initiatives with each other. That is the way we should go forward, rather than making a single Asia program or an Asia initiative," he said.
Kuroda also urged politicians to contain geopolitical conflicts which is "not good for anyone."
(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Sam Holmes)
China’s run of solid economic indicators proved little consolation for its shaky financial markets in April. The dichotomy stems from a shift in the leadership’s focus toward reducing leverage -- one that’s set to determine whether growth joins asset prices in heading down.
Economists are practically unanimous in saying that reduced debt loads would be good for China’s longer-term health. The big unknown is whether officials can manage that without a dose of short-term pain. As UBS Group AG analysts put it in a note last week: if authorities’ initiatives are "not managed well, it could lead to a rise in credit events, excessive liquidity tightening, faster-than-intended slowdown of credit growth, and greater market volatility."
What started in the fall of 2016 as a tightening in money-market liquidity has intensified to a broader attack by policy makers on the shadow-banking system, where patchy regulation has allowed investors to make leveraged bets. When President Xi Jinping last week warned top officials to crack down on financial risks, the benchmark equities index at one point gave up gains for the year, while bonds suffered their biggest tumble of 2017.
While past regulatory shifts -- especially pricking a stock bubble and letting the yuan depreciate in 2015 -- have sometimes spooked international investors, this time around the reaction has been muted. The positive economic backdrop has helped, along with the conviction that Xi and his lieutenants won’t allow turmoil to disrupt a key, once-in-five-years Communist Party leadership gathering this autumn.
The imperative of heading off disorderly moves in financial markets is a backdrop to the slew of regulatory initiatives over the past two months. Besides broad increases in money-market rates, the list includes:
The People’s Bank of China incorporated off-balance-sheet wealth-management products in its macroprudential assessment of banks’ risks, putting lenders on notice that shadow banking is facing deeper scrutiny
The China Banking Regulatory Commission, under new leadership since February, stepped up scrutiny of entrusted investments -- funds that banks farm out to external managers
The CBRC issued guidelines to enhance liquidity risks at banks, including all of lenders’ interbank and WMP business in their monitoring
Authorities stepped up inquiries about wholesale funding after smaller banks sold a record amount of negotiable certificates of deposit
For now at least, the economy isn’t expected to take a major hit. For one thing, growth accelerated last quarter to 6.9 percent according to official figures, and the debt hangover is getting easier to service as factory prices snap years of deflation.
Some indicators suggest the expansion may be coming off the boil. Caixin Media and Markit Economics’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index slipped to 50.3 in April -- the lowest since September. But while trends in the property market signal a slowdown ahead, China has plenty of infrastructure needs in central and western parts of the nation, and urbanization remains a long-term engine.
In the most recent tussle between market sentiment and economic fundamentals, it was the latter that won out. The economy weathered the 2015 market turmoil, first stabilizing and then perking up as the housing market took off again and the government stepped in with massive doses of infrastructure investment.
The latest push to contain financial risks is focused more on speculative bets than on curtailing credit to the "real" economy. The PBOC has kept benchmark lending rates at a record low and the government continues to spend on pipes, rail and bridges.
"China’s current economic recovery is likely to be in its early days, and has more legs to run," said China International Capital Corp. economist Liang Hong. Better policy coordination and ongoing liquidity injections by the PBOC make a credit crunch seem unlikely, she said.
Crucially, the increase in yields on Chinese government bonds (CGBs) has coincided with the emergence of inflation that’s reflected the economy’s quicker growth. Nominal GDP rose 11.8 percent in the first quarter from a year before, according to Bloomberg Intelligence economist Tom Orlik. That helps fuel corporate profits, government revenue and household income, along with making debt easier to service.
Wringing out leverage may make economic sense, but it may not be pretty for equities and higher-yield bonds.
"We could see more forced redemptions from high-yield bonds and a flight to quality back to high-grade bonds like CGBs," Nomura Holdings Inc. analysts including Hong Kong-based Albert Leung wrote in an April 26 note. Any further sell-off in central government bonds offers "an opportunity for long-term investors," they wrote.
But overshadowing all: the 19th Communist party Congress slated for later this year, when Xi will preside over a reshuffle of leadership positions below him. It’s unlikely that the government will allow the economy to veer off script, said Minyuan Zhao, an associate professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
"This is not unlike injecting strong medicine into a patient -- make sure you kill the disease before killing the body," she said of the deleveraging push....
Mongolia will work to get its bailout approved soon, according to a senior finance ministry official, after the International Monetary Fund postponed a vote on it over concerns about a new law that affected foreign exchange and investment.
"We are working towards resolving this issue as soon as possible and we hope that once it’s resolved the IMF board meeting will take place," Manduul Nyamdeleg, head of the financial markets and insurance division, said by phone in Ulaanbaatar.
The fund delayed its decision on the bailout in order to seek clarity on the new measure, according to Neil Saker, the IMF’s representative. The fund had been expected to finalize the bailout on Friday at a board meeting in Washington.
The measure was included in a package of laws passed last month that was seen as a prerequisite of the bailout. It stated that revenues from large-scale projects had to pass through a Mongolian bank account.
“We need a bit more time to understand the nature of the specifics of the measure and whether the macroeconomic framework of the program remains valid," Saker said on Saturday by e-mail. He added that there was no fixed date for the fund to consider the issue.
Manduul declined to comment on how long Mongolia’s government could effectively function without the assistance. That money would have been part of a larger package aimed at supporting the balance of payments and the budget deficit, which last year reached 17 percent of gross domestic product.
An early version of the measure explicitly referred to the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, which is controlled by London-based Rio Tinto Group, according to a note issued Friday by the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia. In the final document the language was changed to remove any reference to specific projects.
Rio Tinto spokesman Ben Mitchell declined to comment on any implications for funding on Oyu Tolgoi’s expansion.
“A number of MPs see this as enhancing visibility or transparency of foreign investment and particularly of OT," Canada’s ambassador to Mongolia Ed Jager said by phone, referring to the Oyu Tolgoi mine. “From our perspective it’s not just about OT, its about any sizable foreign investment and it creates a distressingly difficult situation for companies to be required to funnel funds through Mongolian banks."
Last week Mongolian authorities “expressed some willingness’’ to resolve the matter, Jager said. “What their form of resolution will look like and how they see this moving forward this week, I don’t know."
“Since the U.S., Canada and Australia governments are all investors in Oyu Tolgoi’s project finance, we would expect this issue be resolved fairly quickly,’’ Nick Cousyn, Chief Operating Officer of BDSec, said in an email.