China 2017 sugar imports drop a quarter from year before to lowest since 2010

BEIJING, Jan 23 (Reuters) - China, the world's top sugar importer, bought 2.29 million tonnes of the sweetener in 2017, down 25.2 percent from the year before and the lowest since 2010, data showed on Tuesday.

That came in the wake of steps by China's government to protect the local sugar industry.

China's December sugar imports <SU-CN-IMP> dropped 38.7 percent to 130,000 tonnes, from 220,000 tonnes a year ago, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

December's imports were also down 19 percent from last month's 160,000 tonnes, the data showed.

China also bought 2.83 million tonnes of corn in 2017, the lowest since 2014, according to the data.

That was down 10.8 percent from 3.17 million tonnes in 2016. The world's second-largest corn consumer has reformed a stockpiling programme, which had artificially supported domestic prices well above international levels.

China's December corn imports <CO-CN-IMP>, rose 221.1 percent to 450,000 tonnes, from 141,431 tonnes during the same month in 2016, according to the data. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Joseph Radford)