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Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani




Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani





SINGAPORE, March 19 (Reuters) - China is set for a decline in soybeanimports this year, with almost no one so far successful in obtainingtemporary permits required for shipping bio-engineered oilseeds, traderssaid on Tuesday.More than a week after Beijing's announcement of temporary measures anda day before China's rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) comeinto effect, they said, nobody seemed to have acquired papers necessaryfor resuming soy imports.Doubts are growing among Asian traders whether the Chinese governmentis willing to open up its door for foreign soybeans in the near future.They are waiting to see what China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) sayat a seminar in Beijing on March 27 and 28 to explain how to fill in formsto apply for safety certificates."This afternoon we are going to MOA and apply (for the temporary safetycertificate)," said a trader in Shanghai at a major international tradinghouse. "Maybe they have to use up the 30 days (before issuing thecertificate)."Another trader based in Singapore said: "Nobody has gottenanything...We have applied...What I've heard is that all applications wererejected."Apart from rumours that a major crusher had bought two cargoes of SouthAmerican beans since Washington and Beijing hammered out a compromise onGMO regulations early this month, they have heard of no new deals.

LOWER IMPORTS, AMPLE STOCKSDue to uncertainties over the GMO rules and low-tariff import quotasfor edible oils, many traders are now downgrading their forecast forChinese soy imports this year to levels seen in 2001 or the previousmarketing year ended on September 30.Many do not expect Chinese imports to be more than 11-12 million tonnesthis year, compared with 13.94 million in the calendar 2001 and 13.25 inthe last marketing year.The trader in Singapore was even more bearish.Asked about his estimate for the 2001/02 year, the trader said: "Eightmillion tonnes. That's what they need, actually...All the rest would bespeculation, what causes the market to come down badly. It created a lotof problems.""I would not be extremely surprised if China is not going to import fora while, maybe until June or July."In a report published overnight, the U.S. Agriculture Department'sattache in Beijing also revised downwards its 2001 estimate by one milliontonnes but it still stood at 12.5 million. It sees imports of 14 millionin the 2002/03 year.Chinese domestic soy prices have remained soft to steady, with manycargoes arriving before March 20, traders said. They said more than onemillion tonnes made it to China in February and another 800,000 tonnesthis month."The supply of imported beans is sufficient for use in 1-½ months,"said the Shanghai trader. "And we still have local supply in the northeast. So there is no big problem expected for the next two months."