| BEIJING, March 2
BEIJING, March 2 China should redefine its
grains security policy to fully liberalise the corn trade, the
founder of the country's largest private agricultural business
said on Friday.
China currently maintains a quota system over grains imports
in an attempt to grow almost all of its grains domestically. But
as meat consumption rises, feed companies are increasingly
chafing against the restrictions as they require more corn for
"Why can't China distinguish between grains for people and
feed grains, and liberalise the market for feed grains?" Liu
Yonghao, head of the New Hope Group, asked a press conference.
"China should allow imports and exports, and encourage more
feed and meat production here. Why are such tight corn controls
needed? If we liberalise corn, import when needed and export
when needed, it would greatly benefit the agricultural sector."
New Hope is the largest consumer of corn in China. Last
year, it processed almost 16 million tonnes of corn into feed.
China gave up trying to grow all of its soybean consumption
over a decade ago. It now imports about two-thirds the soybeans
it needs for cooking oil and feed.
Policymakers still insist on a target of growing at home
about 95 percent of the country's consumption of other grains,
as a matter of national security.
Some Chinese experts are increasingly arguing that growing
grains which require a lot of land and water is less efficient
than importing them. They also said it would be better to invest
more in labour-intensive processing industries than farming.
China imported some 1.75 million tonnes of corn in 2011. It
became a net corn importer in 2010.
"China can continue to control the trade in grains for
people but should fully open the import of feed grains," Liu
Liu said importing grains would allow China to create more
jobs and tax revenues from the meat industry, compared to its
current practice of allowing rising imports of meat, poultry and
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)