China’s Corn Imports Mount In March

Dried corn cobs hang from a ceiling at a house in the small village of Xecachelaj, Santa Maria Chiquimula, Guatemala April 3, 2019. Picture taken April 3, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Luis Echeverria)

Rapid growth in demand in the domestic market in China increased its imports in March. The website of the General Administration of Customs reported that the corn imports of the country are an over-five-fold year-on-year with an increase to 420,000 tonnes in March. The total amount of imports significantly increased to nearly 1 million tonnes in the first quarter.

China reduced its planting area of corn and it encouraged corn processing industries as part of its agricultural reform which leads to a mild supply shortage in the previously glutted corn market. The analysts believe that the corn import of the country will set a record high increase in 2019 and the prices are expected higher than last year.

Chinese customs data showed that the country imported 3.52 million tonnes of corn last year which increased by 24.7 percent compared to its import in Ukraine in 2017. Ukraine is the largest supplier of corn to China. Customs data also reflected that there is an increase in purchases of China in farm products including seafood, beef, and fruits. Imports of wheat, soybeans, and sugar declined in March.

The customs' report showed that the exports sector in China recovered in March following its poor start in 2019. Chinese imports, however, showed a continuous decline which shows the weak demand in the second largest economy in the world. Data showed that China's export increased by 14.2 percent, a huge recovery from its 20.8 percent decline in January and February. The export data during the Months exceeded the forecast provided by the survey of economists by Bloomberg at 6.5percent growth. China's imports are below Bloomberg's prediction of 0.1 percent growth. Imports declined by 7.6 percent following a 19.9 percent fall in January and February.

The data from the Chinese customs implies that the country's exports increased by 0.9 percent while its imports shrank by 4.4 percent for the first quarter of this year. Chinese customs also reported that the trade surplus of the country with the United States was $20.5 billion in March. It attributed a large chunk of China's total trade surplus that has increased to $32.64 billion in March. It increased from 4.08 billion over the first two months of the year. It exceeded the forecasts of economists at $7.05 billion.

According to reports, China and the United States to form enforcement offices that will monitor the implementation of trade pledges. According to Carlos Casanova, Asia economist at insurance company Coface, the underlying data on China's economy should be some cause for concern whether a trade deal is reached.

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