China tightens restrictions on soybean imports

August 11, 2003, As China’s soybean imports soar to more than double for the same time last year, the Chinese government is taking a closer look at importation regulations and, after reporting phytosanitary violations in a Brazilian shipment, has decided they are too lax. As a result China is planning to impose tougher restrictions on the import of soybeans.

Embassy officials from Argentina, Brazil and the US, the top soy producers in the world, have been notified of the new restrictions by Chinese quarantine authorities, trade sources told Reuters.

Sources at the Brazilian embassy in the Chinese capital of Beijing confirmed that Chinese officials had told them that phytosanitary problems had been discovered in shipments, and that as a result measures might be taken to protect the Chinese market and the environment.

The Chinese quarantine authorities are reported to have been slow in handing out import permits in recent weeks, often leaving ships stranded offshore. Traders are quoted as saying they suspect that China is simply determined to control the market, and is using the GMO issue or alleged phytosanitary problems as a useful pretext.