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China dismisses grain concerns as imports surge

2013-01-16 16:47 Xinhua     Web Editor: Gu Liping comment

The Chinese government on Wednesday dismissed concerns over its grain supply security, saying that grain imports have remained within a reasonable range despite rapid expansion last year.

The amount of wheat, corn and rice China imported from January to November 2012 soared 294.5 percent year on year but accounted for less than half of the country's combined annual quota for importing the three types of grain, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said at a press conference.

Imports that exceed the quota are subject to much higher tariffs than those within the quota.

The government took grain supply security and the possible impact on global markets into account when setting the quotas, Shen said.

"The overall scale of imports was obviously within a reasonable range," Shen said.

China imported a combined total of 10.78 million tonnes of wheat, corn and rice in the first 11 months of 2012, Shen said, citing customs figures.

He attributed the increased imports to price plunges on global markets, higher domestic demand for animal feed and a low base in 2011.

"It is groundless to say China threatens global grain security or that the country's grain supplies are insufficient just because it is importing more grain," Shen said.

China has set import quotas for corn, wheat and rice at 7.2 million tonnes, 9.64 million tonnes and 5.32 million tonnes, respectively, for 2013, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner.

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