After months of being stranded on Chinese waters, distraught seafarers of Australian coal-carrying cargo ships might be repatriated as China is set to allow the unloading of cargo.
However, uncertainty looms regarding customs clearance.
Australian Coal Cargo Unloading
China has announced that they will allow unloading of the Australian coal cargo despite cribs on imports. The decision has been taken to show goodwill as China has been under immense pressure as this trade stand off affected many countries.
No Shift in Cargo Ban
However, Beijing has made it clear that this doesn’t mean that the coal embargo has been lifted. Australian coal along with other goods like wine remains banned. This has created an uncertainty over the delivery of the cargo as customs is unlikely to clear it.
So, far the Chinese custom department hasn’t said anything regarding the matter. They maintain that they aren’t aware of the situation as of yet.
Aiding Crew Change
The permission to unload the cargo will make crew change possible in the ships. As many as 61 Australian coal carrying bulk carriers are waiting in Chinese Waters. The new declaration hasn’t elaborated how many of them would be granted permission to unload cargo.
The seafarers of these stranded vessels are in a limbo and living under dire conditions. Global concerns for these 1200 stranded seafarers have deepened. This has lead to suicide attempt by some of them.
Shippers Bearing Costs of Crew Change
2 Ships belonging to the Great Eastern Shipping and MSC had to go through intense negotiations to repatriate their crew which involved multiple costs due to dibertions.
Similar operational and crew change costs were borne by Oldendorff Carriers for its 2 stranded vessels. After much diversion and crew change the vessels have now returned to China to again stand in queue for unloading.
China never acknowledged that this was a fallout of their Australian coal cargo ban and maintained it was due to covid restrictions but reality proves otherwise. Chinese stations and mills have stopped using Australian coal cargo as fuel. Many of them have asked traders to stop purchasing Australian commodities. This directive happened back in November.