East China’s Shandong Province, China’s largest agricultural trade province saw a trade deficit in the sector for 2012, as exports declined while imports kept rising. Shandong’s exports of agricultural products fell by 2.3% year-on-year in 2012 to $15.02 billion, the largest decline since 2001 when China entered the WTO, Zhang Li, an official at Shandong Provincial Department of Agriculture, was quoted as saying by xinhuanet.com Saturday.

Sluggish international market demand, rising domestic costs, fluctuations in vegetable prices and the cancellation of export rebates for some primary agricultural products were the reasons behind the fall in exports, experts said. Meanwhile, Shandong imported more agricultural products in 2012, resulting in a trade deficit of $6.64 billion for the sector, up by 106.2% year-on-year.

Shandong’s imported agricultural products are mainly land-intensive soybeans and cotton, and they have relieved domestic demand pressure, analysts said. Data from Shandong Provincial Department of Agriculture showed that the total imports in 2012 of major agricultural products such as grain, edible vegetable oil and sugar increased by 33.2% year-on-year.

China saw an international trade surplus for agricultural products ranging from $2 billion to $6 billion before 2003, but the sector has seen a trade deficit since 2004. In 2012, China’s exports of agricultural products amounted to $63.3 billion, while imports totaled $112.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $49.2 billion, a 44.2% increase year-on-year, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Source: People’s Daily Online Feb 2013

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