July 15, 2020 / 4:05 PM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-Vietnam imports first U.S. coal shipment, state coal miner says

(Adds details and background)

By Khanh Vu

HANOI, July 15 (Reuters) - Vietnam has imported the first shipment of coal from the United States, state-owned coal miner Vinacomin said on Wednesday, days after the two nations marked the 25th anniversary since they established diplomatic relations.

The 21,700 tonnes of coal bought from IMI Fuels LLC arrived at a port in northern Vietnam, Vinacomin, formally known as Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Corp, said in a statement on its website.

The Southeast Asian country, which has become more reliant on imported coals for power generation in recent years, said this week its imports of the fuel surged by more than 50% in the first half of 2020 from a year earlier to reach a record high.

Most of the coal imported in the January-June period came from Indonesia and Australia.

“The delivery of the first coal shipment will pave the way for more coal imports from the United States in the future,” Vinacomin said, saying the second batch was scheduled to arrive in September.

Vietnam has been seeking to import more U.S. goods, including coal and liquefied natural gas (LNGO, to help narrow a trade gap after President Donald Trump threatened tariffs on its products amid the Chinese-U.S. trade war.

Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States, Vietnam’s largest export market, widened to $24.46 billion in the first half of this year from $20.58 billion a year earlier, according to Vietnam’s customs data.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Edmund Blair

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