Trump says ‘America First’ for coal exports

The US president has accused China of blocking his attempt to protect America’s coal exports, calling the country’s policies on environmental protection “a disaster”.

Speaking to the Senate in New York on Monday, Mr Trump said the country needs to be “America first” in the world’s biggest energy market, adding: “We are going to be tough, we are going be smart and we are doing that now.”

The US is the world leader in coal exports.

Its exports account for about a fifth of the global economy.

The White House said in December the country could increase exports to China by up to 30 per cent by 2025.

“The Chinese are a disaster.

They’re not going to change,” Mr Trump told the Senate.”

They have built factories and built factories all over the world.

We have a lot of coal, we have a big market.

We need to get it back.”

And we’re going to have to do it in a way that doesn’t cause harm to our workers, doesn’t destroy our coal industry, doesn`t hurt our country.

“So I`m going to do everything I can to make sure we get it right.”

Mr Trump’s comments come after his administration approved the first coal export permit in US history.

The move comes as China is struggling to contain pollution from a massive smog outbreak in the US and is facing mounting international criticism over the countrys role in the global warming crisis.

China is a major source of US coal exports but the country is under pressure to take responsibility for its pollution, and has vowed to increase its domestic coal production to meet demand.

Last week, Mr Obama announced a new round of federal permits that would allow US coal companies to export up to 3.3 million tonnes of coal a year, up from 2.3m tonnes.

In a statement on Monday the US Department of Commerce said it was pleased that the president had “committed to expanding coal exports to the Chinese market”.

“We expect these additional exports to help support the US coal industry and the millions of jobs that are supported by them,” it said.

“Our goal is to increase exports of coal to China, but we will also work to ensure that the Chinese government is accountable for its actions and takes a stronger leadership role in addressing climate change.”

The move is expected to ease restrictions on exports of US crude oil and gas to China but US coal producers say there is still a lack of oversight.

“I think it’s a great step forward, but it`s a small step,” said Mike Hoechlin, chief executive of the American Coal Council, an industry group.

“It`s not going do much to solve the problem of China`s emissions, but I think it`ll have a minimal effect on US exports.”

China has denied that it is to blame for climate change and is not doing enough to curb its pollution.