Thursday, January 20, 2022

Grain-Oilseed Imports Hit 167 MMT in 2021

China's imports of grains exceeded 65 million metric tons (mmt) in 2021, according to data reported by its customs administration. Grain imports were up nearly 40 mmt from 2020. The import boom was led by an increase in corn imports from 11.3 mmt in 2020 to 28.3 mmt in 2021. 

Source: analysis of China customs data.

Grain imports filled China's tariff rate quotas (TRQ) for the first time. Corn imports were nearly four times the 7.2-mmt TRQ which was long believed to be the maximum but no longer appears to be relevant. Wheat imports reached 9.77 mmt, slightly more than its TRQ. Rice imports totaled 4.92 mmt, just below its TRQ. 

China's imports of soybeans reached 96.5 mmt in 2021, down from 100 mmt in 2020. China imported 5.5 mmt of rapeseed, peanuts, sunflower seeds and other oilseeds. Thus, total oilseed imports reached 102 mmt, and the sum of grain and oilseed imports was over 167 mmt.

Source: analysis of China customs data.

Grain and oilseed imports were equal to 19 percent of the country's total supply (domestic production plus imports). That's up from 17 percent in 2020 and 14-15 percent during 2015-2019.

Source: analysis of China customs data.

The official commentary from Economy Daily noted that the combined imports of grains and soybeans exceeded 160 mmt in 2021. The article acknowledged that "moderate" grain imports are needed to fill structural shortages in view of the country's large population and scarce land. Economy Daily blamed the pandemic for disrupting grain shipments, prompting some countries to stockpile grain, and others to cut of exports. It's hard to see how these factors caused China to nearly double its grain imports two years in a row. Moreover, China seems to be the only country obsessed with stockpiling grain and banning fertilizer exports.

Economy Daily fretted that rising grain imports could leave China vulnerable to transmission of global price fluctuations to the Chinese market or changes in policy or production shortfalls in exporting countries. Economy Daily recommended encouraging domestic companies to invest abroad, nurturing grain traders who can influence international prices, diversifying the sources of grain imports and varieties imported, in order to stabilize imports and keep China on the initiative. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Informative article, just what I was looking for. You can also read ttip and economic growth from