July 21, 2011


Argentina seeks to boost corn, soyoil exports to China



Argentina hopes to significantly increase corn exports to China in early 2012 after finalizing a market access agreement by the end of this year, Agriculture Minister Julian Dominguez said on Wednesday (Jul 20) during a trade mission to China.


Soaring feed demand and depleted corn reserves have brought China back to the global grain market after a 15-year hiatus, and Argentinian authorities have been trying to cement agreements to supply the world's second-largest corn consumer.


In a briefing to reporters, Dominguez did not venture an estimate of volumes bound for China, but said his country, the world's second-largest corn exporter, expects to have 18-20 million tonnes of corn available for export next year.


Argentina has typically only exported small amounts of the grain to China, sending six tonnes last year and 24 tonnes in the first five months this year.


Argentina is expecting to harvest about 30 million tonnes of corn next year, up from 22 million tonnes this year, he said.


China may already have imported as much as three million tonnes of corn this year from the US and seeks to diversify its suppliers.


Argentina has been smoothing over a trade dispute that prompted China to cut off soyoil imports from the country early last year. Chinese buyers were in talks with Argentina earlier this year to buy up to 400,000 tonnes of the edible oil, officials and analysts said. About 200,000 tonnes of soyoil are slated for export this year, Dominguez said.


"We hope soyoil exports to China will recover to historical levels, and we've talked about it with the Ministry of Commerce" on this trip, he said.


The trade mission comes at a time when Chinese companies, including farming giant Heilongjiang Beidahuang Nongken Group, are working toward land deals to develop agriculture in Argentina.


Beidahuang last month signed an initial agreement with Buenos Aires-based Cresud SA (CRESY) on cooperation in land purchases.


"We need to protect our land resources and we can't open too much, Dominguez said, but we need investment and we invite cooperation to develop our land resources."

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