March 3, 2019 / 1:56 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-China's New Hope Group sees limited impact from African swine fever -chairman

(Adds chairman comment on corn quotas, background on trade war)

BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - New Hope Group , owner of China’s largest animal feed business New Hope Liuhe, does not see a major impact from the African swine fever epidemic sweeping through the country’s hog herd, group chairman Liu Yonghao said on Sunday.

The company’s feed-to-meat business is benefiting from higher chicken prices resulting from the outbreak of disease in pigs, Liu told reporters ahead of the opening of the annual parliament meeting.

He also said he hoped the United States and China would soon reach a deal on trade, with tariffs currently hurting farmers in both countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he had asked China to immediately remove all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products because trade talks were progressing well. Trump also delayed plans to hike tariffs on Chinese goods to 25 percent as previously scheduled.

Beijing currently imposes 25-percent import duty on soybeans from the United States, China’s second-largest soybean supplier with shipments making up a third of China’s total imports.

New Hope said last year that it would diversify its soybean sourcing, buying from Brazil, Argentina, the Middle East, Russia, India and South Africa.

On its animal feed business, Liu said on Sunday that his company is actually benefiting from the pig disease as some farmers are now buying more feed from New Hope because they are confident the company’s feed was not contaminated with African Swine Fever (ASF).

ASF is an incurable pig disease that has been confirmed in 28 Chinese provinces and regions.

Liu called on Beijing to increase corn import quotas to private firms and grant the permits based on companies’ output and demand.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; additional writing by Chen Aizhu in Singapore; editing by David Evans and Susan Fenton

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