US ce­real may be used by food pro­cess­ing and al­co­hol sec­tors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONG NAN and REN XIAOJIN

China started to al­low rice im­ports from the United States for the first time as part of the lat­est ef­fort to en­hance bi­lat­eral trade in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, the Min­istry of Com­merce said on Thurs­day.

Ow­ing to the ab­sence of agri­cul­tural quar­an­tine in­spec­tion agree­ments, China had banned US rice im­ports.

Thurs­day’s move un­der­scores ef­forts to en­hance trade in agri­cul­tural pro­duce be­tween the two coun­tries.

“The move will of­fer US farm­ers, es­pe­cially those in the ma­jor rice pro­duc­ing states such as Arkansas, Mis­sis­sippi and Louisiana, ac­cess to the world’s largest rice con­sumer,” said Ding Lixin, a re­searcher at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Agri­cul­tural Sciences in Bei­jing.

Ding said rice taste pref­er­ences of Chi­nese and US con­sumers vary, so the US ce­real may be used by Chi­nese food pro­cess­ing, chem­i­cal and al­co­hol busi­nesses.

The US De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture or USDA also con­firmed the news on Thurs­day.

China im­ported around 5 mil­lion met­ric tons of rice last year from global mar­kets, mainly from Myan­mar, Thai­land and Viet­nam. The coun­try be­gan to im­port rice af­ter it joined the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2001.

Ea­ger to en­hance the coun­try’s grain se­cu­rity, China planned to in­crease its grain im­ports dur­ing the 13th FiveYear Plan (2016-20) pe­riod while con­tin­u­ing to in­crease its farm­ing ca­pac­ity, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture.

Ow­ing to the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and ac­cel­er­at­ing ur­bani- za­tion, China’s an­nual de­mand for grain is ex­pected to rise from 600 mil­lion tons in 2014 to 700 mil­lion tons in 2020.

“In­creas­ing rice, corn, soy­bean and wheat im­ports from the US can help China en­hance its grain se­cu­rity and make more arable land avail­able for veg­eta­bles and fruits,” said Xu Xiao­qing, head of the agri­cul­tural eco­nomics de­part­ment of the State Coun­cil’s De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­ter.

China lifted the ban on im­ports of US beef in June for the first time since 2003. Chi­nese buy­ers signed im­port deals with their US part­ners for 12.53 mil­lion tons of soy­bean, 371 tons of beef and pork last week.

USA Rice, the Vir­gini­abased or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent- ing the US rice in­dus­try, said Thurs­day’s agree­ment was the most com­plex of its kind, and sets strict stan­dards for US ex­porters, which will pro­tect China from cer­tain pests.

It added it would work with the USDA to en­sure com­pli­ance by the in­dus­try. The US out­put of rice is ex­pected to be 6.07 mil­lion tons this year, 1.05 mil­lion tons less than 2016, the USDA pre­dicted last month.

China’s im­port of rice last year

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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