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China to hike wheat imports
"I think we'll see China move from a very modest importer to perhaps a more significant importer of wheat, maybe moving up from a few hundred thousand tonnes to perhaps a million tonnes," said Vincent Peterson, regional vice-president of U.S. Wheat Associates, a trade promotion group.

"Probably we will see Chinese purchases of some modest quantity at least -- but perhaps one million tonnes in the second half of this crop year," Rotterdam-based Peterson told Reuters after chairing a presentation at Milan cereals bourse on U.S. crop quality.

He said the Chinese, whose stocks had fallen in recent years, seemed to be trying to manage grain supplies as domestic prices were rising. The country has boosted soybean imports and appeared to have slowed maize and feed wheat exports in Asia.

Peterson said the United States had recently sold higher protein spring wheat to China, and that China could increase demand for U.S., Canadian and Australian soft wheats.

He said the most efficient trade route from the United States to China was from the U.S. west coast, creating opportunities for hard red spring wheat, winter wheats and soft white wheats.

"The Chinese wheat production this year is at the lowest in probably 15 years -- something like 87 or 88 million tonnes," Peterson said.

"They are still consuming around 100-105 million tonnes, so there's a deficit every year over the last four or five years of between 10 and 15 million tonnes, so stock figures are definitely down," he added.

"They (China) are trying to stabilise domestic prices which have been rising in China, so I think that is the fundamental reason why we think there will be some more wheat imports into China."

MGR Archive 13.11.2003
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