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BEIJING: China’s corn imports from Ukraine in May plunged compared with a year ago, customs data showed on Monday, after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine cut shipments.

China, the world’s top importer of corn, brought in 126,727 tonnes of the yellow grain from Ukraine, down sharply from 1.26 million tonnes a year ago, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

China imported 695,585 tonnes of corn from Ukraine in April. Grain exports from Ukraine, a major producer and exporter in the global market, got cut off after Russia invaded the European country in late February.

China’s corn shipments from Ukraine, its second-largest supplier of the grain after the United States, fell as a result. Beijing has been seeking alternative corn imports from other origins, including allowing cargoes from Myanmar and clearing the way for Brazilian shipments, but a substitute has yet to become significant in volume.

China brought in 1.9 million tonnes of corn from the US in May, up slightly from 1.89 million tonnes a year ago, customs data also showed.

In the first five months, US corn cargos came in at 6.37 million tonnes, compared with 6.67 million tonnes a year earlier. Shipments from Ukraine during the period were at 4.82 million tonnes, down slightly from 4.99 million tonnes a year ago, according to the data.

China’s corn imports in May from all origins fell 34.1% from a year ago, while shipments in January-May were down 2.9%, according to customs data released over the weekend.

Chinese demand for feed grains, including corn, is under pressure as poor livestock margins curbed farmers’ appetite while COVID-19 measures have disrupted normal feed trade.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

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