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First Argentine corn to China

12/18/2012 @ 1:30pm

Argentina has sent its first shipment of corn to China under a bilateral accord inked earlier this year.

Two containers totalling 48.1 metric tons were delivered to Qingdao by South American farming company Adecoagro SA (AGRO), Argentina's agriculture ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

China's Shandong Newhope Liuhe Group Co. imported the corn in October, the ministry said.

"While this is a small shipment, a sample, it is very important for our country as it ratifies Argentina's capacity to meet China's requirements," the ministry said.

The two countries finalized the bilateral sanitary accords needed to start corn exports of Argentina's transgenic corn varieties to China in February.

Argentina is the world's second-largest corn exporter behind the U.S., shipping about 15.8 million metric tons of corn from January through October. The top buyers were Colombia, Algeria, Peru and Malaysia.

Argentina is gearing up for a record corn crop in the 2012-13 season, with planting about two-thirds done.

Early on, expectations had been for a record 28 million tons of 2012-13 corn production, but output is now likely to be 26 million to 27 million tons because of planting delays due to heavy showers, according to the corn growers association Maizar.

That will still top Argentina's previous corn record of 24 million tons during the 2010-11 season and is up sharply from the 21 million tons harvested during the drought-ravaged 2011-12 season.

China has historically been a major corn exporter, but weather problems in recent seasons and soaring demand have turned the country into an importer.

Argentine corn exporters aren't expecting major shipments of corn to China initially, but are optimistic that they will be able to take advantage of demand from China's neighbors like Japan due to the lack of available exports from China.

Write to Shane Romig at shane.romig@dowjones.com

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