January 26, 2015

 

No upsurge in China corn imports seen despite MIR 162 approval

 

 

China may have loosened up in its stand on genetically modified corn, particularly its acceptance of Syngenta's MIR 162, but its corn imports are not necessarily expected to go up, at least in the short term.

 

The International Grains Council (IGC) said private imports were suffering "some difficulties" in obtaining import quotas, noting reports that China has linked the issuance of quota to purchases at state auctions.

 

"Most notably, [import] licences will only be awarded to private processors which purchase stockpiled reserves at government auctions", the council said, adding that quotas "will only be allocated after the mills have received the auctioned grain".

 

Last month Syngenta announced that China had officially approved the leading crop chemicals firm's Agrisure Viptera corn strain, also known in the industry as MIR 162. Earlier China rejected over a million tonnes of corn shipments after it detected traces of the previously unapproved biotech seed, leading US corn farmers and exporters Cargill Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. to file lawsuits against Syngenta for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

 

One lawsuit complained that "Syngenta's decision to release its Viptera seed before China and other US trade partners approved the seed for import was unreasonable."

 

Increased DDG buying

 

Since China approved MIR 162, traders have noted a "pickup in DDG [distillers' dried grain] buying", according to the IGC, since the Viptera corn's approval covers its byproducts such as DDG for food and feed use.

 

However, volumes are being limited as "some companies require advance payments to protect against possible customs rejections", the IGC said.

       

Corn futures drop

 

Corn futures have, meanwhile, dropped by 9.7% in the past 12 months as US farmers harvested a record crop and the production outlook for Brazil and Argentina have improved.

 

"World maize (corn) export prices turned lower amid stiff global competition and ample availabilities," the IGC said.

 

It said 991.9 million metric tonnes of corn are expected this season, or 9.6 million tonnes more than previously forecast and 1.2 million tonnes more than the 990.7 million tonnes in 2013-14.

 

The IGC is echoed by the International Agricultural Trade Reports (IATR), which said that even as US has seen bumper harvests of corn, exports of corn-based products have also grown rapidly in the past decade, reaching a value of $7.6 billion in fiscal year 2014, up 16% from the previous year.

 

The IATR also said that US exports of DDG reached a new record in FY 2014 both in value ($3.4 billion, up 27% from the previous year) and volume (up 45%). Exports have tripled since 2008.

 

"China has been the primary driver of the growth in DDG exports, accounting for half of all US exports in FY 2014", the IATR said, adding, however, that for FY 2015, "the outlook is uncertain and much will depend on Chinese import policies".

 

Corn Gluten Meal/Feed

 

US exports of corn gluten meal likewise reached a new record in FY 2014 year both in value and volume, reaching $704 million, up 6% from the previous year. IATR said Indonesia remains the largest market, but that there was "extremely strong" growth (over 50%) in exports to both Egypt and Chile, the second- and third-largest markets, respectively.

 

Exports of corn gluten feed (a by-product from the manufacture of cornstarch and corn syrup) were down by 9% to $226 million, although volume was slightly up. The EU, primarily Ireland, remained the largest US market.

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