The international coal trade pattern
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Climate policies may reduce the coal demand in some of the major coal importing countries (e.g., Western Europe and Japan). This paper analyses how a shift in the import demand for coal will affect the trade pattern in the international coal market. The following issues are covered: a) Is coal a homogenous good in the sense that it is easy for coal importers to switch between suppliers in different countries? b) Is the USA still a swing supplier in the world coal market, as claimed by Ellerman (1995), or are other countries taking over this position? c) How are trade patterns influenced by shipping freight rates? We find that a) importers increasingly blend their own coal composite and thus may switch between suppliers more easily than before, b) USA’s position as swing supplier in the steam coal market has declined and c) a trend toward shorter transport distances prevailed in periods with falling freight rates.