China approves Kazakhstan barley, corn to diversify imports

BEIJING (Reuters) - China approved imports of barley and corn from Kazakhstan, the customs administration said on Friday, in a move aimed at diversifying the country’s sources of grain shipments.

The approval came the same week that China launched an anti-dumping probe into barley imports from Australia, its top supplier of the grain, amid strained ties between Beijing and Canberra.

The move will help China meet demand from its feed, spirits and energy sectors, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement on its website.

The agreement, signed on Thursday as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with his Kazakhstan counterpart Bakytzhan Sagintayev in Beijing, will have a limited impact on trade, though, said Chinese grains traders.

“It has more political meaning. Logistics will be an issue, and will restrict the volume flowing to China,” said one trader.

Australia exported 6.48 million tonnes of barley to China in 2017, close to three-quarters of China’s roughly 8.86 million tonnes of imports of the grain, worth about $1.5 billion, according to Chinese customs data. [GRA/CN]

The grain is used in both livestock feed and the brewing of alcoholic beverages.

China also imposed a 25 percent tariff on a list of U.S. products in July, including corn and sorghum, two other major animal feed ingredients, in response to similar moves by Washington.

China has an import quota system for its major grains including corn, wheat and rice. It set the 2018 corn import quota at 7.2 million tonnes.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly; Editing by Tom Hogue