August 24, 2018 / 8:42 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. coal shipment to China shifts to South Korea amid trade spat

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A vessel hauling a shipment of coal from the United States switched its destination on Friday to South Korea from China, according to ship tracking data, a day after China imposed 25 percent tariffs on the U.S. fuel.

The Underdog was loaded with 63,000 metric tonnes of coal on July 23 in Long Beach, California, and sailed to China, where it arrived off the coast of Nanshan on Aug. 17. It spent a week idling off the Chinese coast before departing for Yeosu, South Korea, where it is expected to arrive on Aug. 28, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data.

The Underdog was one of several U.S. cargoes that have rerouted amid the U.S. trade dispute with China. Last month, a coal cargo on the Navios Taurus shifted to Singapore after originally heading to China.

On Thursday, the U.S. levied 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods including semiconductors, plastics and railway equipment. China responded with tariffs on goods valued at a similar $16 billion, including oil, coal and steel products and medical equipment.

U.S. coal exports to China dropped in July, with only two other tankers, the Navios Altair I and Glory, departing from California to China, and carrying a combined 128,000 metric tonnes of coal. No ship with U.S. coal departed for China in August, Thomson Reuters data show.

The United States shipped 3.2 million tonnes of coal to China last year, up from less than 700 tonnes in 2016, making it China’s seventh largest supplier.

Reporting by Collin Eaton; Editing by Sandra Maler

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