Coal Exports Fuel Australia’s Gaping Trade Surplus



Michael Heath and Ana Monteiro | Bloomberg

Australia’s bulging trade surpluses are holding up despite the bursting of a price bubble in iron ore — the nation’s largest export — as energy shortages helped send coal prices soaring and boosted the value of shipments of the fossil fuel.

Australia’s trade surplus came in at A$11.2 billion ($8 billion) in October, even as iron-ore export values plunged 23% from a month earlier and were down almost 40% from a peak in July. Coal export values jumped 14% from September, Thursday’s figures showed.

The result underscores Australia’s struggle to abandon the dirtiest fuel as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions. That’s been reinforced as nations from Europe to Asia ramp up production of coal and other fossil fuels to navigate a global squeeze on energy supply.

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