Increased soybean imports are posing a threat to China’s domestic soybean farming and processing industry, according to a local press report.

Soybean imports rose by 3.3 million metric tons in the first four months of 2003 compared to the year-ago period, while soybean oil imports increased by 250,000 tons.

The increased imports are likely to lower domestic soybean prices and cut the income of domestic soybean farmers, reported Dow Jones News, citing a report in the China Business Weekly.

The increase in soybean imports is linked to market uncertainty regarding possible supply disruptions following the anticipated expiry of an interim agreement on GMO imports, which China recently extended until next April.

In June 2001, China introduced new rules on the import of GM products that stipulated that soybean suppliers had to apply for import permits. After complaints from top soybean producers such as the US that the new rules hampered trade, China implemented a temporary measure, which allowed a simpler procedure. The temporary measure has already been extended from its original expiry date of 20 December 2002.