February 19, 2004



China Buys More 500,000 MT US Wheat


China's wheat buying delegation in the United States has agreed to buy more than 500,000 metric tons of wheat from US grain companies, traders said on Thursday.


The delegation, headed by Zhou Mingchen, president of China National Cereals Oils and Foodstuff Import & Export Corp, or Cofco, is scheduled to arrive at the Chicago Board of Trade Thursday morning, before leaving for Portland Friday.


The delegation bought at least another half a million tons of U.S. wheat this week, traders in Beijing said.


China has already bought nearly 2 million tons of U.S. wheat for shipment in the June 2003-May 2004 marketing year and in 2004/05, according to an export sales report from the U.S Department of Agriculture.


In all, China has bought about 4 million tons of wheat from the U.S., Canada and Australia for this season and the next season, a trader from a local brokerage house in Shanghai said Thursday, citing data from a government backed grain think-tank.


Cofco officials couldn't be reached for immediate comment. China sent the wheat buying delegation, the fourth since late 2003, in an attempt to narrow its huge trade surplus with the U.S while also stocking up depleted state grain reserves.


China's wheat production in 2004-05 is forecast to fall for a fifth consecutive year, because of lower acreage and less-than-ideal growing conditions. In January 2004, China imported 40,000 tons of wheat, 15.6% more than the volume imported in the same month of 2003, according to a report in China Securities newspaper Wednesday, citing data from China General Administration of Customs.

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