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Food export hit by product safety scandals
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China's food export grew at a slower rate in October, due largely to September's tainted milk powder scandal and chemical-related egg contamination thereafter, the General Administration of Customs said Friday.

In October, China exported 2.89 billion U.S. dollars worth of foodstuffs, a growth of 15.6 percent on the same month of last year. But the growth rate was 13.4 percentage points lower than September level.

From January to October, the nation's foreign sales of foodstuffs were 27.98 billion U.S. dollars, up 16.1 percent.

Of the total, 43.3 percent, or 12.1 billion U.S. dollars worth, were sold by foreign-funded companies, up 11.3 percent.

Aquatics and vegetables were the nation's main food exports, accounting for 14.9 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively, of the total.

In the first 10 months, China sold abroad 1.43 million tons of aquatic products, down 2.6 percent, and 5.09 million tons of vegetables, up 0.9 percent. The former was valued at 4.18 billion U.S. dollars, up 11.14 percent, and the latter, at 3.32 billion dollars, roughly the same as the same period of last year.

Japan remained the largest market for China-made foodstuffs, receiving19.1 percent of China's total food exports. China sold 5.34 billion U.S. dollars worth of foodstuffs to Japan in the Jan.-Oct. period, down 8.9 percent. The customs administration said a tainted dumpling scandal that broke out earlier this year was also a factor in the decline.

China's food export value to the European Union and the United States were 4.47 billion U.S. dollars and 3.73 billion dollars, respectively, up 19 percent and 18.5 percent.

In a related development, China imported 20.59 billion U.S. dollars worth of foodstuffs between January and October, up 34.2 percent.

ASEAN members, the United States, the European Union and Argentina were the major sources for China's food imports.

(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2008)

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