China buys Ukraine corn for the first time: report

China, the world’s largest consumer of corn, has bought its first shipment of 50,000 tonnes of corn and wheat from Ukraine and may raise corn imports from the East European nation significantly over the next few years, China Daily reported.

The paper, citing Oleg Bakhmatyuk, chairman of Ukrland-farming Plc, Ukraine’s largest agro-industrial company, as saying that corn imports may rise to 1 million to 1.5 million tonnes over the next three years.

China doet not yet have a corn trade pact with Ukraine. Aware of its longer-term import needs, China is increasing its supply sources, having relied on the United States for most of its corn imports.

Last month, China signed a sanitary protocol with Argentina that allows China to buy Argentine corn products after months of negotiations.

The China Daily report said the first Ukrainian shipment, carrying both corn and wheat, was on its way to China. It gave no further details on the buyer or prices.

China is widely expected to dominate the global trade of corn in the years ahead after becoming a net importer just three years ago. Many analysts see the rise in corn imports mirroring the quick rise in soy imports that have made China the world’s top soy buyer.

In the first two months of the year, imports surged to 1.27 million tonnes, nearly three-quarters of last year’s total imports, as domestic suppliers were tighter than expected and prices were high.