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UPDATE 1-China's December grain imports plunge amid trade disputes -customs

* China imported no sorghum in December

* December imports of barley fell 75 pct on year

* Grain purchases hit by trade tariffs, dumping probes

* Pork imports also down in December (Adds detail)

BEIJING, Jan 23 (Reuters) - China’s imports of livestock feed grains sorghum and barley shrank further in December, customs data showed on Wednesday, as Beijing’s trade disputes with major exporters continued to shrivel demand.

China - previously the world’s top sorghum buyer - bought none of the grain in December, compared with 160,000 tonnes a year earlier, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

Beijing slapped a 25 percent duty on sorghum imports from the United States on July 6, in retaliation over similar trade measures taken by Washington.

The United States is the world’s top exporter of the grain, and accounted for 94 percent of China’s imports in 2017. China’s imports for 2018 fell to 3.65 million tonnes, down 27.8 percent on the year.

Imports of barley, used in both brewing and animal feed, fell to 140,000 tonnes in December, down 75.4 percent from the same month of 2017.

The fall came after Beijing launched an anti-dumping probe in October into shipments of the grain from top supplier Australia. In late December, it added an anti-subsidy probe.

For 2018, total barley imports came to 6.82 million tonnes, down 23.1 percent. Australia accounted for three-quarters of China’s barley imports last year, according to the customs data.

Meanwhile, pork imports rose slightly from the previous month to 95,384 tonnes, but were still down 14.4 percent from a year earlier, even with the approaching Lunar New Year festival.

Demand for pork normally picks up ahead of the holiday - which begins on Feb. 5 this year - because families typically feast on their favourite meat dishes.

The data, which includes muscle cuts but not pig offal, showed total pork imports for 2018 at 1.19 million tonnes, down 2 percent from the previous year.

China has reported about 100 cases of African swine fever since August 2018, pushing up slaughter rates and meat supply in the domestic market.

China’s corn imports in December came to 420,000 tonnes, down 8.2 percent from the same month of 2017, the data also showed. Full-year imports were up 24.7 percent at 3.52 million tonnes.

Wheat imports in December were up 14 percent from a year earlier at 240,000 million tonnes, but 2018 shipments were down 29.9 percent at 3.1 million tonnes.

Sugar imports rose 25.8 percent from a year earlier to 170,000 tonnes in December. For 2018, sugar imports were up 22.1 percent to 2.8 million tonnes. (Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Tom Hogue)

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