China’s “Feed King” calls for opening corn trade

beijing / reuters / China should fully liberalize its corn trade, according to the founder of the country’s largest private agricultural business.

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.

“Why can’t China distinguish between grains for people and feed grains, and liberalize the market for feed grains?” asked Liu Yonghao, head of the New Hope Group, the largest consumer of corn in China.

“China should allow imports and exports, and encourage more feed and meat production here.”

China gave up trying to grow all of its soybean consumption over a decade ago, and now imports about two-thirds the soybeans it needs for cooking oil and feed. But policy-makers still insist on a target of growing at home about 95 per cent of the country’s consumption of other grains, as a matter of national security — despite arguments this requires a lot of land and water, and is less efficient than importing them. China imported some 1.75 million tonnes of corn in 2011 after becoming a net corn importer in 2010.

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