LAS VEGAS, NV (B)--A group of Chinese officials are expected to tour the U.S. in February or early March, according to Barbara Spangler, executive director of the U.S. wheat Export Trade Education Committee. While Spangler is hopeful the Chinese might buy wheat on this tour, she added that Chinese import demand should remain limited for at least several months.

"We expect the Chinese officials in this group to be able to buy wheat while they are here," said Spangler. "A solid shipment would send an important signal to Congress that China is serious about opening up its markets."

While Spangler was encouraged by recent developments with the Chinese, she cautioned that last April's trade agreement did not guarantee U.S. wheat exports to China. She said, "Last April's agreement opens a door, but it is a tariff rate quota agreement. Any purchases are dependent on Chinese need."

Spangler noted a slow drop in Chinese support for domestic wheat production, but added that any change in the supply-demand dynamic would be gradual.

"While prospects for the longer term are positive, we shouldn't expect any dramatic changes over the short run," said Spangler.

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