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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 China plans new restrictions on soyabeans import

HONG KONG (August 09 2003) : China, the world's top soya importer, plansto introduce new restrictions on beans from the United States, Brazil andArgentina due to quality concerns, traders said on Friday.

They said China's quarantine authorities, known also as CIQ, had verballyinformed embassy officials from the three countries of the newrestrictions in Beijing on Thursday.

The United States, Brazil and Argentina are the world's top soyaproducers.

CIQ has also drawn up a list of companies that had supplied soya cargoeswith quarantine problems in the past, traders said.

The traders said they had no further details on the restrictions,including when they would take effect.

Asked what was going to happen, one trader at an international house said:"We are not sure.

They just told the embassy people that those suppliers were blacklisted,and that their exports to China would be restricted."

No officials from Brazil and Argentina, CIQ or the Ministry of Agriculturewere immediately available for comment.

A US official in Beijing declined comment.

Over the past several weeks, CIQ has been slow in issuing soya importpermits, leaving many vessels stranded at ports for days or in some casesfor weeks.

The traders saw the move as an attempt to rein in the country's run-awaysoya imports ahead of its domestic harvest starting in September orOctober.

They have long said Chinese 2003 soya imports were heading towards 20million tonnes after surging 211.6 percent to 10.15 million tonnes in thefirst half alone.

In the United States overnight, a spokesman for Bunge Ltd told ReutersChina had imposed restrictions on the company's soya exports to China andthat others seemed to have been hit as well.

The report threw the soya market into turmoil as many vessels werearriving in China from South America ahead of September 20, when China'sinterim rules on imports of transgenic crops, such as soyabeans, are toexpire.

But the traders said CIQ had issued more import permits so far this weekafter releasing between six and eight permits on Friday last week for thefirst time in weeks.

"CIQ has been releasing permits almost every day. Six permits werereleased yesterday," the Shanghai trader said.-Reuters