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China indefinitely suspends economic dialogue with Australia, impact seen limited

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China indefinitely suspends economic dialogue with Australia, impact seen limited

Singapore — China's National Development and Reform Commission has indefinitely suspended all activities under the framework of the China-Australia strategic economic dialogue with the Australian government, according to an announcement released by NDRC on May 6.

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The above move is unlikely to have a major bearing on China's metal imports, market sources estimated.

There may not be a huge impact on the imports of alumina and spodumene like iron ore since Australia is the largest exporter to China, some sources said.

"It's hard to say how the suspension of the strategic economic dialogue will impact on China's alumina imports from Australia. There might be some room to maneuver," said an international trader.

Meanwhile, the suspension meant that the import ban on Australian copper concentrates will continue, industry insiders said.

It was reported that China -- the largest copper ore and concentrates importer -- considered an import ban on Australian copper concentrate in early November 2020. China didn't import any copper concentrates from Australia from December 2020, although it has yet to see any official documents on the ban, the customs data showed.

In March, China imported 157,460 mt of alumina from Australia -- the largest exporter to China, down by 14.5% from a year earlier, taking up 58.7% of China's total. China's imports of bauxite ore from Australia fell by 31.3% from a month earlier to 3.09 million mt, which accounted for 30.6% of the country's total.

A Chinese lithium industry analyst said that the move may not impact China's spodumene imports from Australia.

"There's the possibility [that the suspension might impact on China's spodumene imports] given that China has substantial lake brine production of its own," said another lithium analyst. However, China is still very dependent on Australian spodumene, the analyst added.