This chapter examines the factors shaping the future of the world coal trade. New coal supplies will be developed only if strong and persistent signals from governments and customers encourage new investment. Besides rigorous conservation measures to curb the growth in demand for energy, especially oil, the chief alternatives to imported oil were natural gas, nuclear energy, renewable resources, and coal. Since the mid-1970s, the choice of fuel for new power plants in major industrialized countries has been primarily coal or nuclear energy. Before 1973 international trade in coal was dominated by metallurgical coal; the demand for steam coal imports was insignificant. South Africa is probably the only developed market economy fueled primarily by coal. South Africa has traditionally exported small quantities of coal. In 1980 the United States had a cost disadvantage in the delivered price of steam coal to Europe and Japan.