March 4, 2004
China To Ratify US Wheat Purchase
Representatives from the China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Import & Export Corp., or Cofco, will be in Pierre, S.D., Thursday to sign a memorandum of understanding for a large purchase of U.S. wheat, according to the South Dakota Wheat Commission.
"They have expressed willingness to purchase at least 3 million metric tons," said Randy L. Englund, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission, citing information from the Chinese embassy.
Cofco officials recently finished with an official trade team visit to the U.S. in late February. "We are surprised to see they want to come back so soon," added Englund.
The signing ceremony will take place at 0900 CT (1500 GMT) Thursday in the South Dakota Governors Large Conference Room with Secretary of Agriculture Larry Gabriel and Secretary of State Chris Nelson representing South Dakota.
The wheat is expected to be for the 2004-05 marketing year, while the exact class of wheat was not specified, officials pointed out that China has expressed interest in the hard red spring wheat class. This variety is primarily grown in the Northern Plains, including South Dakota.
Officials also said the memorandum is not an official contract to buy.
"We are very pleased to be hosting this delegation," said Englund. "The prospect of sales to this large market is very exciting. As China's central purchasing agent, we want to capitalize on this unique opportunity to establish friendly relations with Cofco representatives."
After the signing, the delegation will meet with representatives of regional grain elevator to discuss production, grain handling, quality and transportation issues
Englund pointed out that South Dakota Gov. M. Michael Rounds and Sen. Tom Daschle were influential in making the visit happen.
Following the previous Chinese trade visit, which concluded Feb. 20, the U.S. confirmed through the daily export sales announcements sales of 855,000 tons of U.S. wheat. HRS wheat made up the majority of that grain.