China May Begin Buying Argentinian Corn Soon: Minister

China, the world’s biggest grain consumer, may begin buying corn from Argentina soon, Norberto Yauhar, the South American nation’s agriculture minister, said.

“We believe issues with genetically modified seeds can be resolved in the next 60 days” because Premier Wen Jiabao will visit Argentina next month, accompanied by his agriculture minister and the director of the State Administration of Grain, Yauhar said at a press conference in Beijing today.

Argentina and Laos were listed as approved suppliers, the Beijing-based quality watchdog General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said on April 28. The agreement, first announced by Argentina in February, generated speculation that Argentina, tied with Ukraine as the second-biggest exporter, may displace some purchases from the U.S., the top shipper.

Corn for July delivery rose 0.2 percent to $6.0475 a bushel in Chicago at 5:13 p.m. in Beijing.

Corn imports by China may advance 35 percent as a rapid increase in meat demand boosts consumption of grains to feed chickens and pigs, the United Nations said May 3. Corn consumption jumped 53 percent in the past decade as demand grew 41 percent for poultry and 27 percent for pork, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture has requirements to meet on genetically modified corn, Chairman Li Qiang of researcher Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. said May 3.

Exporters such as large grain companies need to demonstrate to China that their genetically modified corn is sourced from approved varieties, Martin Fraguio, head of Argentina’s corn growers’ association Maizar, said by phone on May 5. “This, in practice, shouldn’t be difficult,” he said.

Shipments of corn to China may be limited as Argentina’s output has been reduced by drought this year, Yauhar said today.

Argentina’s corn harvest may shrink to about 21.5 million metric tons in the year that ends Sept. 30 from 23.6 million tons a year earlier, while exports will slide to 14 million tons from 16 million tons, the USDA said April 10.

— With assistance by William Bi

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