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China’s Agricultural Imports Up From Last Year

Reuters writers Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton reported late last week that, “China’s August imports of soybeans from Brazil rose 22% from a year ago, customs data showed on Friday, as buyers increased their purchases to take advantage of higher margins earlier this year.

“China, the world’s top buyer of soybeans, brought in 8.15 million tonnes of the oilseed from Brazil in August, up from 6.68 million tonnes last year, data from the General Administration of customs showed.

“Crushers ramped up buying from the South American country to meet strong demand for feed from the recovering pig raising industry.”

The Reuters article pointed out that, “Soybean arrivals in the coming months are expected to remain high, however, with more cargoes coming from the United States while Brazilian shipments slow, according to analysts and traders.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported last week that, “Fund speculation and irrational hoarding are to blame for a spike in China’s corn prices, agriculture minister Han Changfu told state media on Wednesday.

A recovery in hog breeding capacity, and an expansion of the corn processing industry have also contributed to prices, which this week climbed to the highest in five years before paring gains, said Han.

“His comments came as China’s customs data indicated the country last month imported the most corn in more than four years, driven by the spike in domestic corn prices on expectations of a supply deficit. China purchased more than 1 million tons of corn in August, the most since April 2016, official customs data showed.”

“China Blames Speculation and Hoarding for Corn Price Surge,” Bloomberg News (September 23, 2020).

The Bloomberg article added that, “Han said China will increase corn imports only where necessary. Import volumes of soybeans, used in animal feed and cooking oil, will continue to be large, as domestic output is unable to meet demand.”

With respect to pork, Reuters writer Dominique Patton reported last week that, “China’s imports of pork in August doubled from a year ago to 350,000 tonnes, customs data showed on Wednesday, as it built its meat stocks to fill a huge shortfall at home.”

The Reuters article explained that, “Chinese importers have been bringing in huge volumes of meat this year after the African swine fever disease killed millions of pigs in the last two years in the world’s top pork producer.

Pork imports from January to August stood at 2.91 million tonnes, up 133.7% on the corresponding 2019 period.

And more narrowly regarding U.S. pork exports, Reuters writer Karl Plume reported last week that, “U.S. pork exports to China have surged beyond pre-trade war levels, led by higher shipments from Brazil’s JBS SA and China’s WH Group Ltd, owner of Smithfield Foods, according to Panjiva, the research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.”

Mr. Plume noted that, “China agreed to import a record $36.5 billion in U.S. farm goods in the Phase 1 trade deal signed in January, with pork expected to be key to reaching the mark.

“Chinese demand is seen rising further after Beijing blocked imports from Germany, which has suffered an outbreak of a pig disease.”

Meanwhile, Rhiannon Branch reported last week at Brownfield Online that, “Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says he is hopeful that China can meet its purchase commitments of US ag goods under the phase one trade deal by February.

“During a farmer forum with Congressman Rodney Davis in central Illinois this week, Perdue addressed concerns from many farmers about the deal.

‘I think honestly it is going to be tough to meet those numbers. This is just purely a guess; we may reach it by the end of January before Brazil and South America come back into the marketplace.’

“Perdue says there are sales on the books, but he wants to see shipments, saying China is known for booking and later cancelling sales.

“‘If they continue as they are, I am hopeful that we could see the numbers that we had for this year by the end of January. It does appear they are trying, but it remains to be seen if we will make those numbers or not.'”

Keith Good

Keith Good

Keith Good is the social media manager for the farmdoc project at the University of Illinois. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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