SOURCE / ECONOMY
US may replace Ukraine as China’s top source of corn in 2021: experts
Published: Apr 11, 2021 08:58 PM
A farmer drives a combine harvester to reap corn crops in Sunjiatun Village of Nongan County, Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province, Oct. 29, 2020. Jilin Province has entered the final phase of autumn harvest as agricultural producers finished gathering 96.3 percent of the season's crops.Photo:Xinhua

A farmer drives a combine harvester to reap corn crops in Sunjiatun Village of Nongan County, Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province, Oct. 29, 2020. Jilin Province has entered the final phase of autumn harvest as agricultural producers finished gathering 96.3 percent of the season's crops.Photo:Xinhua



The US will likely surpass Ukraine as China's top source of corn this year for the first time since 2015, as China's corn imports from the US continue to grow amid increasing demand, soaring prices and the China-US phase one trade agreement, experts said on Sunday.

Since March 2020, corn prices have soared, peaking at 2,900 yuan ($442) per ton. There have been some fluctuations since March, and the price was just 2,730 yuan in early April, but it rose again by 150 yuan per ton in the past week and maintained at a historical high level, industry data showed.

Corn prices are setting records on the purchasing, futures and wholesale fronts, which reflects changes in supply and demand, Xi Yinsheng, an analyst with the Research Center for Rural Economy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In recent years, China's stockpiles have been rapidly depleted, while the gap in producing areas is also large, experts said.

"Coupled with the impact of COVID-19, crop prices are surging, and corn prices are rising more than many other crops because of the larger gap in the supply and demand for domestic corn," Xi said.

Booming demand in China further boosted imports. Data from the research institute ASKCI showed that from January to February, China's corn imports stood at 4.8 million tons, up 414 percent year-on-year.

The US Department of Agriculture has projected that China will import a historically large 24 million tons of corn in the 2020/21 marketing year, Reuters reported.

Experts told the Global Times on Sunday that corn imports may even exceed expectations, driven by market demand and the China-US trade agreement.

In the first two months of this year, the US surpassed Ukraine, which has been the largest corn exporter to China, and will likely exceed it for the whole 2021, an expert close to relevant authorities told the Global Times on Sunday on condition of anonymity.

"This year, the US is set to replace Ukraine as the largest corn supplier to China, and imports of US corn will account for 70 percent of China's corn imports this year," the expert said.

Meng Jinhui, a corn industry chain analyst with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, told the Global Times on Sunday that there is no upper limit for corn imports.

"In addition to the 10 million tons from the Black Sea region such as Ukraine and Russia, about 30 million tons will be imported from the US, which will set a record for imported US corn," predicted Meng.

However, China is also set to increase corn planting to ensure food security, so imports next year should be less than this year, experts said.

Data from market information online platform Qichacha showed that driven by rising market prices, the number of registered corn-related enterprises increased by 16 percent year-on-year in 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, 16,000 new registrations were recorded, up 120 percent year-on-year.

"Even without an official stimulus announcement, the market has spontaneously increased the amount of corn planted. Also, there are many substitutes for imported corn in feed, an important usage for corn," said Meng.


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