Weeks after COFCO Agri announced it was establishing an ethanol trading desk in the USA, the Chinese state-owned agricultural trader says it is opening its first trade office in Canada as it continues its push into North America, Reuters reported on 10 June.

The Canadian office will be located in the centre of the country’s grain region in Winnipeg, joining other major grain traders including Cargill, Richardson International, Paterson Grain, and Parrish and Heimbecker.

Reuters said COFCO Agri was hiring three traders and an operations manager to oversee the growth of the group’s domestic and export trading activities.

COFCO has been focusing on global expansion. It completed its buy-out of the Noble Group’s agricultural unit in March (see OFI News, March/April 2016) to form COFCO Agri, which will trade and process a wide range of agricultural products including grains, oilseeds, sugar, cocoa, coffee and cotton. It also bought a 51% stake in Dutch trader Nidera in February 2015.

COFCO has confirmed it is currently pursuing deals that will gain it a presence in North America, the Reuters report said.

COFCO CEO, Matt Jansen said the company’s intention was to expand its footprint into its singular lacking region – North American grain origination – as it strived to achieve a truly global presence.

The opening of the ethanol trading desk in the USA has been viewed as a means of entry to trade between the top two ethanol producers in the world – the USA and Brazil – as well as a way to meet growing demand from China.