China's international trade of farm products produced a surplus of US$2.99bn in the first half of 2002, according to Agriculture Ministry figures. Exports totalled US$8.06bn, a year-on-year rise of around 6 per cent, while imports fell by 8.5 per cent compared with the same period last year, to US$5.07bn.
The rise in exports was explained by efforts to explore international markets and by fruit and vegetable trading. However, the ministry warned that Chinese farmers would be threatened by a rise in imports in the second half of the year, as products ordered under the special low-tariff quota system agreed as part of China's WTO commitments started to enter the country.
The US Agriculture Secretary, Ann Veneman, said that China had given assurances that its new rules on imports of genetically modified products would not hurt imports of US soybeans, Reuters reported. US soybeans exports were disrupted after China's agriculture ministry announced stricter checks on imports of genetically modified organisms in June 2001. In March this year, China agreed temporary measures, lasting until December 20, which would enable trade to resume. Imports started again in June with shipments from South America.