China announced this week the partial lifting of wool import quotas meaning that 100.000 tons for local consumption, and a further 60.000 tons for re exporting, will have virtually free access to Chinese industry.
According to Uruguayan wool operators it will still take another twenty days to sort out and distribute the new quotas among the different Chinese provinces, but "overall this will mean a more bullish year for wool sales".
Of the 100.000 tons for local industry, 31% was earmarked for the special quota system with several suppliers, among which Uruguay that will automatically be entitled to export an additional 11.000 tons.
Wool exported to China under the quota system avoids the current 38% import duty, that is now limited to 1% for greasy wool and 3% for tops.
Uruguayan Wool Secretariat, SUL, officials said that the Chinese resolution extends for one year and contrary to previous occasions, provinces have twenty days to decide on the quota distribution among local industry.
"This drastically cuts the bureaucratic process that usually takes months", said a SUL spokesman, adding that there's a radical change in Chinese attitudes.
"China now seems far more involved in World Trade Organization open market policies: last year this very same January announcement took place in May, and we are now encouraged to believe that the second phase of the import quota system will be lifted next mid July".