China has been warned by the top U.S. negotiator for agricultural trade that confusion over its rules on genetically modified food imports must be eliminated by fall when U.S. soybean shipments normally pick up.

But according to Reuters News Service, Allen Johnson did not say what would happen if China failed to comply. Johnson met with Chinese officials at a World Trade Organization negotiating conference in Geneva.

Speaking from Geneva, Johnson said Chinese officials responded by repeating their "intention to fulfill their WTO obligations." The Chinese made similar promises to USDA Secretary Ann Veneman last week at the World Food Summit.

On Tuesday, China's Health Ministry issued a new set of draft rules on GMO imports, creating added confusion about the country's GMO policy. The new rules come just after China restarted soybean imports after simplifying GMO rules issued by its Agriculture Ministry.

According to Reuters, China's Health Ministry said it would require importers of GM products to obtain import permits, but did not clarify whether importers would have to apply to both the Agriculture and Health Ministries.

The ministry also did not say whether its rules were applicable to oilseeds for processing or human consumption.

But traders told Reuters that soybean shipments from the United States and South America are expected to land smoothly in China in the short term as crushers are desperate to replenish dwindling stocks.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.