China -Argentina ag min@ (Adds context on recent China-Argentina soy meal export deal, additional detail from statement)
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Argentina's Agriculture ministry said on Monday that China had approved the first seven crushing plants in Argentina to begin exporting soymeal to the world's biggest consumer of the livestock feed.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Argentina, the top international supplier of soymeal, announced that China would allow imports for the first time following decades of talks.
The plants approved for export include those owned by Bunge Ltd's Bunge Argentina, LDC Argentina, Cargill Inc , Molinos Río de la Plata, Renova, T6 and COFCO International Argentina, a ministry statement said.
Chinese inspectors audited the facilities in late August, according to the statement.
Argentina had tried for years to break into the Chinese market, which requires huge quantities of the meal to feed its massive hog herd. China, with its own crushing industry to protect, had steadfastly resisted.
The U.S.-China trade war, however, strengthened Argentina's hand, prompting China to sign the Sept. 10 deal paving the way for exports in the coming months.
China's state-owned construction giant CCCC is also preparing a bid to dredge Argentina's Parana River, a key conduit for the country's grains, as the Asian nation seeks to lock in supplies by investing in commodities transport hubs around the globe.
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Chris Reese and Lisa Shumaker)