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. China steps up efforts to curb grain smuggling: official media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 5, 2008
China has stepped up efforts to curb illegal wheat and rice exports as traders try to smuggle out grain to take advantage of record high global prices, state press reported Monday.

The problems with the smuggling comes as China is trying a range of measures to keep its domestic grain supplies stable amid soaring inflation that has seen sharp price rises for nearly all food products since last year.

Customs officials in the eastern city of Hangzhou city stopped four attempts in the past several weeks that could have shipped nearly seven tonnes of rice and 33 tonnes of wheat out of the country illegally, the China Daily said.

Authorities in Ningbo city, also in Zhejiang, blocked more than 130 tonnes of wheat from being shipped out in four recent cases, according to the newspaper said.

In March, global rice prices rose to their highest level in 19 years and wheat prices rocketed to a 28-year peak, widening the gap with domestic prices and stimulating exports as high prices ate into imports, it said.

China's commerce ministry last week issued a notice calling for tightened curbs on grain exports, faster imports of commodities such as edible oil, and a build-up of reserves of important agricultural products including meat.

China in December also scrapped export tax rebates for wheat, rice, corn and soybeans and at the start of this year started to levy a 5.25 percent provisional export tariff on 57 food stuffs.

In late January, the commerce ministry announced that grain exporters would be given export quotas before signing new foreign export contracts this year.

China's inflation, led by soaring food prices, reached 8.3 percent in March, well above the government's full-year target of 4.8 percent.

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Surging food prices bite across Asia
Sydney (AFP) May 5, 2008
From the rice paddies of Asia to the wheat fields of Australia, the soaring price of food is breaking the budgets of the poor and raising the spectres of hunger and unrest, experts warn.

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