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China Offers Grain Export Opportunity

China’s fast-growing demand for grain will provide an opportunity for exporting nations rather than threaten world supplies, an agricultural research group contends.

An International Food Policy Research Institute report said Monday that although China’s imports of grain will reach historic highs, the nation’s production also will increase, preventing worldwide shortages and higher prices.

Exporting nations, especially those dealing in wheat and corn, stand to benefit from these trends, according to the report. The United States produces almost half of the world’s grain exports.

“Increased demand for grain in China offers opportunity for major grain exporters such as the United States, Canada and Australia, but it poses no threat to world food markets,” said Mark Rosegrant, an institute research fellow and co-author of the report.

The institute said alarms have been sounded recently that population growth, rapid industrialization and economic expansion would sharply boost grain demand in the world’s most populous country, draining international markets and inflating world food prices.

The study forecasts that China’s demand for grain will total 450 million metric tons in 2000, rising to 513 tons in 2010 and 594 million tons in 2020. At the same time, domestic production in China will rise to 420 million tons in 2000, 486 million tons in 2010 and 570 million tons in 2020.

As a result, grain imports will reach a record 24 million tons in 2000 and increase to 27 million tons in 2010 before leveling off at 25 million tons by 2020, the report projects.

“It appears that China will neither empty the world grain markets nor become a major grain exporter,” the report concludes.

The institute said rising meat consumption in China will drive the grain demand as consumers more that double their meat, poultry and fish consumption. But it forecasts grain as food will decrease.

The institute was established in 1975 to study ways to feed people in developing nations. It is funded by international agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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