Japan suspends U.S. wheat imports
Japan Tuesday restricted imports of feed wheat from the U.S., suspending shipments from the Pacific Northwest and allowing only Soft Red Winter grade to be offered in the next tender due to concerns over the recent discovery of an unapproved genetically modified strain at an Oregon farm.
"We have imposed two conditions for U.S. wheat to be offered in the next [feed wheat] tender. The grade should be Soft Red Winter, and shipments must be made from the Gulf coast," an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries told Dow Jones Newswires.
The U.S. is currently investigating the discovery of the unapproved genetically modified wheat in Oregon. The state is a major producer of Soft White grade wheat, which is shipped from the Pacific Northwest. The SRW grade of wheat is produced in the southeast and exported from the Gulf of Mexico.
The suspension will continue until the U.S. completes its investigation of the genetically modified strain, the official said. Earlier, Soft White wheat was permitted in Japan's feed wheat import tenders.
Japan is seeking 120,000 metric tons of feed wheat and 200,000 tons of feed barley in a simultaneous-buy-and-sell tender for bulk shipment by Aug. 31, the official said.
The tender closes Friday. This will be the first SBS tender to be held for feed grain after the controversy over the genetically modified strain erupted in the U.S. around two weeks ago.
Japan buys feed wheat only in small volumes. It has bought 443,790 tons of feed wheat and 631,480 tons of feed barley in 20 of the past 31 SBS tenders. The others were canceled over a lack of buyers and sellers.
In SBS tenders, the government regulates imports of feed wheat and barley and is the intermediary, while trades are possible only if there are both buyers and sellers.
End users can negotiate collectively on the price, quantity and origin before submitting bids to trading companies via the agriculture ministry.
Japan buys wheat and barley mostly from Canada, Australia, the U.S. and France.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 11, 2013 07:53 ET (11:53 GMT)