China is expected to receive its first imports of corn from Argentina as early as April next year, a senior Argentine agricultural official said Thursday (Nov 4).
Shipments would likely start in April under a bilateral agreement that is almost ready to be signed, said Lorenzo Basso, vice-minister of agriculture, livestock and fisheries.
Argentina, the world's second-largest corn exporter, expects China to issue a so-called phytosanitary certificate, or a quarantine permit for plant health, in about a month, Basso said.
Soaring feed demand and depleted corn reserves have brought China back to the global grain market after a 15-year hiatus, and Argentine authorities have been trying to cement agreements to supply the world's second-largest corn consumer.
China needs "sufficient corn stockpiles" to meet demand, Basso said, adding that the country has shown a willingness to import Argentine corn and agreed to "speed up" negotiations.
Corn now being planted is due to be harvested in March, so shipments to China would not begin until the end of the harvest season, despite current stockpiles of six million tonnes, Basso said.
He also said Argentina is expected to harvest about 25 million tonnes of corn next year, of which 15 million tonnes would be available for exports.
A trade spat last year brought Argentine agricultural exports to a halt but Argentina has sought to smooth relations, sending multiple high-level trade and diplomatic missions to Beijing this year.
"Once China opens the corn market to us, it will become one of the most important export markets of Argentina," Basso said.
With the US - now China's major foreign corn source - and Argentina being located in different hemispheres, China will be able to import abundant volumes of corn year-round once it opens the market to Argentina, he added.