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China's carbon-cutting push augurs big shift in global commodities

Oil imports by 'world's factory' see 1st drop in 20 years while steel exports shrink

Molten iron is poured into a container at a steel mill in Hefei, Anhui Province. China has imposed curbs to rein in steel overproduction.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China's crude oil imports fell for the first time in two decades in 2021, a sign that "the world's factory" is undergoing a fundamental shift that will have repercussions on commodity markets around the world.

The country imported 513 million tons of crude, customs data shows -- down 5.4% on the year. China became a net importer of oil in the late 1990s as domestic oil fields dried up and automobiles came into broader use, and its purchases had risen steadily since then.

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