* China looking to reduce reliance on U.S. soybeans amid trade war
* Needs protein to make feed for its huge livestock herd
* Follows approval of imports of Kazakh barley, corn (Adds comment, detail)
BEIJING, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Chinese customs officials said on Monday that they had approved rapeseed meal imports from Kazakhstan, the latest move aimed at diversifying the country’s sources of protein for animal feed.
China is working to reduce its reliance on U.S. soybeans, amid a protracted trade dispute with Washington.
Soybeans are China’s most important source of protein for its huge livestock herd, with the United States its No. 2 supplier.
Beijing has also recently dropped a ban on rapeseed meal imports from India.
But new Kazakh supplies are expected to have little impact on the overall market, with very limited potential for exports from the country, said Lu Yun, an analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co Ltd.
The Central Asian nation produced 85,000 tonnes of rapeseed meal in 2017/18, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
China imported almost 1 million tonnes of rapeseed meal in 2017, virtually all from Canada, according to customs data. It also shipped in nearly 4.5 million tonnes of rapeseed from Canada for crushing in the domestic market.
However, most of that was shipped to southern ports.
“It could be of some help to northern China to supplement supplies from Mongolia and Russia,” said Lu, referring to small volumes of rapeseed imported from those countries.
The approval for Kazakh rapeseed meal follows approval for barley and corn imports from the country last month. (Reporting by Tom Daly and Dominique Patton; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Joseph Radford)