Feb 14, 2011  |  Today's News

For the first time, China emerged as the top market for U.S. agricultural exports, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Feb. 11.

According to the data, China imported agricultural products valued at 17.5 billion U.S. dollars from the United States in 2010, which accounted for 15.1 percent of the total exports of agricultural products of the United States. The major import from the United States is soybean.

Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that increasing grain imports will help ease the contradiction between major agricultural products and farmland and increase the country's grain security.

In general, the advantages of increasing the amount grain imports outweigh the disadvantages, Li said.

As the most populous country in the world, China should guarantee the cultivation of key agricultural products, such as rice, wheat and corn, to feed its people, while demand for cash crops such as soybean can be met from the international market, Li said.

The agricultural products on which China has high external dependence include soybeans, cotton, vegetable oil and edible sugar. China has little dependence on the international market for major grains, such as rice, wheat, and corn.

Statistics from China's Ministry of Agriculture show that China's self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and corn stands at 100 percent. This indicates that China's dependence on the international grain market is moderate.

China's grain security outlook is undergoing significant changes. China is now making full use of both the domestic and overseas markets rather than focusing only on the balance of domestic supply and demand.

As the country imports more agricultural products, increases in price of world agricultural products will have a greater impact on China, which may result in imported inflation, according to Zhang Junling, an analyst from Dongxing Securities.