Chinese officials in charge of importing wheat will visit the United States sometime in early to mid-February for a first-hand look at the U.S. wheat market and to consider purchases, a U.S. industry group told Reuters News Service Monday.

Officials of the wheat division of COFCO, China's state trading enterprise for wheat imports, have accepted an invitation from the U.S. Wheat Associates to visit the U.S., according to the industry group.

Dawn Forsythe, spokeswoman for U.S. Wheat Associates, said the Chinese team will visit Washington and possibly Portland, OR. Details of the trip were still being worked out, she added.

The Chinese officials had been scheduled to visit the U.S. early last month, but that trip was canceled after the Bush administration announced new trade barriers on some Chinese textile products.

U.S. Wheat Associates said it had no details on possible purchases of wheat that could result from the February trip. General expectations in the wheat market are that any Chinese purchases arising out of the trip are likely to be for 2004-2005.

China has already bought about 680,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat this year. China has also indicated that it will buy 500,000 tons of Canadian wheat and has agreed to buy 1 million tons of Australian wheat.

USDA in its monthly supply/demand update on Monday projected Chinese 2003-2004 wheat imports at 2 million tons.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and 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.