China’s December soybean imports from the United States surged 44 times, year on year, and up 21% on the month to 3.09 million mt, according to customs data.
Since trade tensions eased between the world’s two largest economies in October 2019, Chinese importers have bought more soybeans from the US in the last quarter of 2019 alone, compared to 2018’s yearly import levels, a trade source said.
A phase one US-China trade deal was announced on January 15, although neither sides released specific commodity purchase details of the agreement, fearing market disruptions.
Since August 2019, China’s purchase of US beans have increased, as the world’s biggest soy importer released tariff-free quotas as a goodwill gesture.
The Chinese soybean import from the US is slated to rise further on Beijing’s promise to buy $80 billion worth of American farm products under the phase one trade deal, including soybeans.
However, the Xi administration maintains that US-China phase one deal will not affect its trade relations with other partners, such as Brazil — the world’s largest soy producer and exporter.
China purchased 4.83 million mt of soybeans from Brazil in December, up 10% on the year and 25% month on month, the customs data showed.
China’s soybean imports in December jumped 67% higher year on year, and up 15% month on month to 9.54 million mt, according to the customs report released earlier on January 14.
In 2019, China’s soybean imports rose 0.5%, year on year, totaling to 88.5 million mt, of which 78% of the purchases were made from Brazil, the report showed.
China, the world’s largest purchaser of soybeans, processes over 80% of its imported beans into high protein animal feed.
According to S&P Global Platts Analytics, China’s soybean demand in 2019-20 marketing year (October-September) could reach up to 90 million mt, up 9%, year on year, and 6% higher than USDA’s December WASDE report, due to pig and sow heard recovery in recent months.