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China's COFCO Agri hiring grain traders, opening Canadian office

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Chinese state-owned agricultural trader COFCO Agri, is opening a trading office in the Canadian grain hub of Winnipeg, adding to the aggressive expansion of its North American agriculture business.

COFCO Agri is hiring three grain traders and an operations manager to expand export and domestic trading, according to the company's postings on professional networking site LinkedIn. Efforts to reach COFCO spokespeople and the company's U.S. human resources director for further details were unsuccessful.

On its website, the company lists regional trading and asset offices in eight countries, but none in Canada, the world's largest canola-exporting country and one of the top wheat exporters.

COFCO has embarked on an aggressive expansion into international grain trading, having invested over $3 billion to buy Noble Group's agribusiness in March and a large stake in Dutch grain trader Nidera.

COFCO also has an office in Vancouver to conduct market analysis.

The company is shopping for deals in the United States and Canada to give it access to North America's grains and oilseeds for export. It is also setting up a U.S. ethanol trading desk, sources told Reuters in May.

Several of the largest Canadian grain traders already have head offices in Winnipeg, including Richardson International, Cargill Ltd, Paterson Grain and Parrish & Heimbecker.

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