Jun 02, 2023

Argentina and China in Discussions on Corn Exports to China

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Argentina and China are in the process of agreeing to phytosanitary protocols that would allow Argentina corn to be exported to China for the first time in 11 years. The Argentine Minister of Agriculture is scheduled to meet with his Chinese counterpart in the coming days to iron out the details.

The first protocol to export Argentine corn to China was signed on February 15, 2012 with the first and only vessel of 66,000 tons of corn exported to China in 2013. Since then, no corn has been exported to China because specific phytosanitary standards had not been agreed upon. The new protocol does not guarantee exports unless all the Chinese requirements are fulfilled.

The new phytosanitary protocol is nearly identical to the original one 11 years ago with a small modification as to pests. Two pests were removed from the prohibited list and one new pest was added.

In 2022, Argentina exported 34.5 million tons of corn. The principal destinations of Argentine corn in 2022 were Vietnam (5.3 million tons), South Korea (4.7 million tons), Peru (3.05 million tons), Algeria (2.58 million tons), and Malaysia (2.57 million tons). A severe drought has limited Argentina's 2022/23 corn production, so corn exports in 2023 will be much lower than in 2022.

The Chinese desire to import corn from Argentina follows a similar path it has with Brazil. Earlier in 2022, China agreed with Brazil on phytosanitary standards to export Brazilian corn to China for essentially the first time. Brazilian corn exports to China started in November of 2022 and they are expected to total between 10-15 million tons in 2023.

Ukraine had been China's main supplier of corn until Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022. Since corn exports out of Ukraine were limited by the conflict, China quickly turned to Brazil and now to Argentina to meet their corn import needs.