China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans, will rely on overseas purchases for supplies of the oilseed, even as it tries to revive domestic production, a top official said.
The comments came after Beijing highlighted a plan to expand its soybean acreage in its first policy document of 2019.
Flagged to the market earlier this year, the plan is being widely watched by soybean producers as it could further dent demand from abroad, after Beijing already cut imports to counter the effects of an ongoing trade spat with its No.2 supplier, the United States.
Boosting Chinese output will come largely from cultivating high quality and high yield soybean varieties and improving scale, Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, told reporters on Wednesday.
The group shapes agriculture policy in China.
But China will still rely on imports for its soybean supply, said Agriculture Minister Han Changfu.
“We will for sure trade soybeans in the international market,” Han said, adding that the United States is an “important partner” in soybean trade.
China is expected to produce 16 million tonnes of soybeans in 2018/19, while imports were estimated at 83.65 million tonnes for the year, according to the latest forecast by the agriculture ministry.
Han has previously urged authorities in China’s northeast to support soybean production through subsidies and called for rotating soybeans with other crops including corn and wheat.
China is also trying to revive production of rapeseed – another oilseed crop – in the Yangtze River Basin, according to the document.