Russian coal supplies to China limited amid Chinese banks issues

On the back of Russian military operation in Ukraine, Chinese importers of Russian coal have been encountering the issue of financing from state-owned banks in China, concerned about US and European sanctions against Russia, as financial institutions do not want to be hit and lose access to transactions in US dollars.

According to market participants, units of the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd halted issuing dollar-denominated letters of credit for the purchase of Russian export commodities. Bank of China Ltd also limited funding under its own risk management policy. At the same time, banks have not yet received clear instructions from Chinese regulators regarding transactions with Russia.

As a result, a number of traders have taken a wait-and-see approach while some traders are discussing with Russian exporters the possibility of making payments in Chinese national currency. With major Russian banks being cut off from SWIFT, some buyers are also considering using a Chinese bank transfer system called CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System).

Russia is China’s second largest supplier after Indonesia. The share of Russian coal in the Chinese market is approximately 15%. However, because of the sanctions, the demand for resources of such a major player as Russia may be affected.

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