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China to Boost Grain Buying When Prices Are Cheap, Official Says

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Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s biggest consumer of grain, is ready to boost imports when overseas supplies are cheap, said Chen Xiwen, deputy head of the Central Rural Work Leading Group under the State Council.

“Importing products that China needs helps to stabilize domestic prices” and benefits exporters, Chen said at a press conference in Beijing today, referring to corn, rice and wheat. The country should source from both domestic and overseas markets to ensure supply, he said. He didn’t elaborate.

The world’s most-populous nation increased rice imports fourfold while tripling corn purchases last year as rising costs of domestic land and labor made foreign supplies cheaper. China’s purchases, often timed during drops in global markets, may steadily grow and support international prices, said Tommy Xiao, analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.

“Officials are now speaking in a more realistic fashion that China needs the global market to balance its grain needs,” Xiao said by phone from Shanghai. “China’s needs and choices of consumption will affect global agricultural production for years to come,” he said.

China should diversify purchases of grain imports, including soybeans and corn, to cut reliance on large producing nations such as the U.S., Brazil and Argentina, said Chen.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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