Agri­cul­tural im­ports in 2017 rise rapidly

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WANG XIAODONG wangx­i­aodong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s im­ports of ma­jor agri­cul­tural prod­ucts con­tin­ued to in­crease fast in the first five months of the year, driven by price gaps be­tween do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced prod­ucts and im­ported prod­ucts, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture.

Wheat im­ports be­tween Jan­uary and May reached 2.2 mil­lion met­ric tons, an in­crease of 67.3 per­cent yearon-year, while im­port of soy­beans in­creased by nearly 20 per­cent to 37 mil­lion tons, and im­ports of beef rose by 14 per­cent dur­ing the pe­riod, com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, Wang Ping, deputy chief of the min­istry’s De­part­ment of Mar­ket and Eco­nomic In­for­ma­tion, said at a news con­fer­ence on Mon­day.

China im­ported 1.68 mil­lion tons of wheat and as­so­ci­ated prod­ucts be­tween Jan­uary and April, an in­crease of 94 per­cent over the same pe­riod last year, Wang said, cit­ing fig­ures from the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms.

Im­ports of some ma­jor agri­cul­tural prod­ucts kept in­creas­ing quickly be­tween 2011 and 2016, with grain im­ports in­creas­ing at an av­er­age an­nual rate of 32.2 per­cent, meat at an av­er­age an­nual rate of 24.9 per­cent, and dairy at 16.6 per­cent dur­ing the five-year pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

“A rapid in­crease in im­ports has also had a great im­pact on China’s do­mes­tic mar­ket for agri­cul­tural prod­ucts,” Wang said.

“Due to a sus­tained in­crease in im­ports, it is pre­dicted that beef and mut­ton prices in the do­mes­tic mar­ket may fall slightly this year.”

The prices of many agri­cul­tural prod­ucts pro­duced in China are higher than the in­ter­na­tional level due to higher pro­duc­tion costs, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture. An ex­cep­tion is corn, whose av­er­age whole­sale price was 1.58 yuan (23 cents) per kilo­gram in the first part of the year, sim­i­lar to the in­ter­na­tional level, a de­crease of 14.4 per­cent yearon-year, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

Dairy in­dus­try an­a­lyst Song Liang said the av­er­age cost of dairy prod­ucts in China was at least 20 per­cent higher than in the Euro­pean Union, largely due to higher pro­duc­tion costs re­sult­ing from lim­ited re­sources such as wa­ter and graz­ing land. This has caused a rapid in­crease in dairy im­ports, he said.

Due to causes such as in­creas­ing sup­ply, prices of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in China in gen­eral have kept fall­ing since the be­gin­ning of this year, with prices of fresh and per­ish­able prod­ucts, such as veg­eta­bles, pork, chicken and eggs see­ing the big­gest de­cline, Wang, from the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, said.

For ex­am­ple, the price of eggs de­creased to their low­est in the last 10 years in the first half of the year be­fore re­bound­ing re­cently, and the price of poul­try also de­clined in the first half of the year, Wang said.

The ma­jor causes were in­creased pro­duc­tion, as a re­sult of higher poul­try and egg prices two years ago and the fall­ing prices of feed such as corn, and an in­crease in H7N9 bird flu cases dur­ing the first half of the year in China, he said.

The price of eggs started to rise in June due to re­duced sup­ply fol­low­ing sus­tained lower prices since late last year, Wang said.

Egg prices may con­tinue to rise in the sec­ond half of the year, but at a slow rate due to ad­e­quate sup­ply, he said.

The prices of some other ma­jor agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, such as pork and veg­eta­bles, may also re­bound in the sec­ond half of the year, Wang said.

LI XIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Work­ers pack as­para­gus at a food fac­tory in Huaibei, An­hui prov­ince.

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