December 02, 2003



China To Meet US Wheat Officials in Beijing


U.S. wheat industry officials will brief Chinese government buyers in Beijing on the quality of this year's U.S. wheat crop tomorrow, after a Chinese delegation cancelled its trip to the United States amid a trade dispute.


The meeting will give U.S. Wheat Associates an opportunity to discuss purchase specifications, protein content and other details about American wheat, Dawn Forsythe, spokeswoman for the U.S. industry group, said on Monday.


She emphasized that the U.S. Wheat Associates conducts similar briefings in every wheat-buying region of the world annually.


U.S. Wheat Associates officials based in Beijing will meet with officials of COFCO, the government-run Cereals, Oils and foodstuffs Import and Export Corp., Forsythe said.


COFCO officials had been expected in Washington this week amid international grain market speculation that China might soon buy up to 3 million tons of foreign wheat.


But that visit, along with soybean- and cotton-buying delegation trips, was canceled late last month, shortly after the Bush administration announced it would set new quotas on China's exports of some clothing.


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on December 9 in Washington. In the runup to his visit, the Bush administration had been pressuring Beijing to narrow China's huge trade surplus with the United States, which could hit $120 billion this year.


In response, China agreed to buy American aircraft, farm commodities and other products.


But growing trade tensions have put the trajectory of those purchases in doubt. Besides textiles, the United States is considering imposing new limits on China's furniture and television exports. Anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made iron pipe fittings also have been approved.


Despite the trade tensions, U.S. grain markets were still hopeful of significant wheat sales to China. Traders in China on Monday noted Chinese wheat prices jumped over the weekend, sparking worries of possible food shortages ahead of the Lunar New Year festival in January.

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