China, Canada sign wheat deal worth C$100 million

by Teresa Acklin
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   OTTAWA, CANADA — Representatives of the Canadian Wheat Board and the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corp. recently signed a memorandum of agreement calling for the sale of Canadian wheat to China valued at approximately C$100 million.

   The April 15 agreement, witnessed by Shi Guangsheng, China's Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, and Ralph Goodale, Canadian Minister responsible for the C.W.B., called for the milling wheat sale to be negotiated under normal commercial practices and at market value. The signing took place during Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to Canada.

   "The C.W.B. has supplied more than 100 million tonnes of wheat to China since the early 1960s," said Greg Arason, president and chief executive officer of the C.W.B. "While Chinese wheat import demand has declined from overall levels of about 5 million tonnes five years ago, the market has become more quality oriented. High-quality, high-grade wheat is becoming a major part of our exports, bringing up the overall sales revenue." China's domestic wheat production has been at or near record levels in recent years, resulting in reduced import demand. Sales of Canadian wheat to China in 1997-98 were 1.3 million tonnes and accounted for the majority of China's imports.