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Argentina, China Resolve Soyoil Rift, Minister Says

Argentina’s Minister of Agriculture Julian Dominguez said China has normalized soybean oil trade between the nations, and the first batch is expected to arrive in December or January.

The two countries are “relieved” the soybean oil dispute is resolved, he said at a press briefing in Beijing today.

China halted shipments from Argentina, the world’s largest exporter, in April because of trade disputes ranging from textiles to kitchen products. The Asian nation bought 250,000 metric tons of soybean oil from South America in October after profits from importing the commodity rose, industry information website said by e-mail on Oct. 27.

Those purchases were for delivery in March to May, with the place of origin Argentina, and Brazil as an option, said the site, which is owned by the China National Grain & Oils Information Center. The new orders lifted total purchases that month to 400,000 tons, it said.

Argentina, the world’s second-largest corn shipper, expects China to agree to buy the grain in the first half of next year, Dominguez said today.

China, the second-biggest consumer, has made no commitment yet to import, he said. Argentina may have 20 million tons of surplus corn next year, he said.

Corn, Beef

Argentina is in talks with China on a so-called sanitary protocol that would allow it to export the grain to the Asian nation, the South American nation’s Ministry of Agriculture said Nov. 12. It expects to speed up discussions with China next year to become an alternative supplier, the ministry said, without providing further details. China’s Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu held talks with Dominguez last month in Argentina.

China has bought about 1.5 million tons of the grain from the U.S. this year, the most since about 1995, as the government sought to cool local prices that surged about 27 percent in the year to the start of November, when the government began a crackdown on inflation. Prices of corn in Chicago surged about 53 percent in that period partly on expectation China needed to boost imports to meet demand.

The Asian nation also signed protocols yesterday with Argentina on conditions for importing deboned beef, barley and dairy products from the Latin American nation, the state-owned newspaper China Quarantine News reported on its website today.

The agreements were inked between Zhi Shuping, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and Dominguez, according to the newspaper.

The media office of the State Administration of Grain in Beijing couldn’t be reached for comment outside office hours.

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