2008-07-27 04:26:24 GMT 2008-07-27 12:26:24 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- China imported more edible vegetable oil at higher cost in the first five months of this year, as demand remained strong at home and prices were buoyed up by short supplies worldwide.
Between January and May, China imported 3.57 million tons of edible vegetable oil, a year-on-year increase of 11.1 percent. The arrivals were valued at 3.98 billion U.S. dollars, up 94.7 percent, the General Administration of Customs said on Friday.
The import price averaged 1,114 U.S. dollars per ton, up 75.2 percent.
The total imports included 2.07 million tons of palm oil, up 23.4 percent, and 1.13 million tons of soya-bean oil, up 7.7 percent. The two combined to make up 89.6 percent of the total.
Most of the edible vegetable oil imports came from ASEAN members, which accounted for 2.33 million tons, or 65.2 percent, of the total.
Customs sources attributed the growing imports to strong demand and limited production at home. Last year China consumed around 22.5 million tons of edible vegetable oil but only produced 9 million tons.
The supply gap was widened by natural disasters.
The severe winter weather in southern China and the May 12 earthquake damaged vast plots of farmland sown to rape seed, thus affecting domestic production of rapeseed oil.
Moreover, the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which is a major soya-bean production base, suffered droughts last year and hence had its soya-bean yield decline 30 percent.