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China softens food export ban to help alleviate N.K. food shortage: aid group

All Headlines 17:50 June 09, 2008

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- China has recently increased its yearly quota for grain exports to North Korea to 150,000 tons to help ease the food shortage in the North aggravated by severe flooding last year, an aid group here said Monday.

The increase was made at Pyongyang's strong request, the Buddhist relief group Good Friends said in its newsletter.

China has restricted food exports due to rising domestic demand and soaring global grain prices since the start of this year. It initially allowed only 50,000 tons of corn to be exported to North Korea, rejecting the famine-stricken country's request to export 150,000 tons this year.

"The Chinese government has recently decided to permit an additional 100,000 tons of grain exports after Pyongyang strongly requested it again," the newsletter said without mentioning the source of the information.

It said soaring North Korean market prices for food would fall if the volume of Chinese food exports rises.

North Korea's corn imports from China rose 1,523 percent to 27,600 tons in February this year alone from the same period last year, according to statistics released recently by the Chinese authorities.

Pyongyang will likely ask for further exports of corn during the remainder of the year, according to well-informed sources in China.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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