Beijing threw the spotlight on trade tensions with its top commodities supplier, Australia, after the government’s economic planning agency said it’s looking to diversify China’s supply of iron ore.
Chinese firms should boost domestic exploration for the steel-making input, widen their sources of imports, and explore overseas ore resources, the National Development and Reform Commission said at its monthly briefing.
The NDRC also said Australia should stop damaging economic and trade cooperation with China and take measures to promote the healthy development of bilateral ties.
Iron ore is Australia’s biggest export earner, and relations with Canberra have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. But adding the mineral to a raft of curbs already in place on Australian commodities would be a risky move given near-record prices and China’s dependence on Australia’s high-quality supply for about two-thirds of its imports.
“While an outright ban would be almost unimaginable, various forms of restrictions, delays or increased administrative burdens on Australian iron ore imports could yet happen,” Wood Mackenzie said in a recent note.
Chinese industrial commodities prices powered on, meanwhile, recovering much of their poise after last week’s pullback.
Citigroup said further gains for markets like steel, aluminum and coal are supported by solid demand and a policy agenda that includes “domestic production crackdowns for environmental, energy and safety control purposes,” according to a note from the bank.
At the same time, an acceleration in credit tightening is unlikely in the foreseeable future after the central bank expressed only limited concern about the surge in commodities prices feeding through into CPI, Citigroup said.
Otherwise, the day’s agenda is led by China’s agricultural imports for April. Purchases of corn, wheat and sorghum are likely to stay elevated, as China’s buying binge continues to help fuel a global grains rally.