Chinese imports of soybeans from the United States in March fall from a year earlier

Workers transport imported soybean products at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

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BEIJING, April 20 (Reuters) – China’s soybean imports from the United States plunged in March from a year earlier, customs data showed on Wednesday, as weak margins dampened buying.

China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans, imported 3.37 million tonnes from the United States last month, up from 7.18 million a year earlier, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

The trend for the year for U.S. shipments was down, with imports in the first three months of 2022 falling 30% from a year earlier to 13.4 million tonnes, the data showed.

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Last year’s imports were supported by Beijing’s increased purchases of US agricultural products, including soybeans, after an initial trade deal in January 2020 between the two countries.

US shipments in March last year increased further as rain slowed the harvest and exports from Brazil, China’s main bean supplier.

Data on Wednesday showed Brazil’s soybean imports in March were 2.87 million tonnes, up from 315,334 tonnes a year earlier.

China imported 6.37 million tonnes of oilseeds from Brazil in the first quarter, up 370% from 1.35 million tonnes a year earlier.

Shipping delays in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in the United States cut off the export window for US shipments last year. So Chinese buyers, whose appetite was dampened by low crushing margins, reduced imports from the United States and waited for the Brazilian harvest. Read more

However, a drought then hit Brazil’s new crop this year, reducing production and delaying some shipments. As prices for Brazilian cargo rose, Chinese buyers turned to US soybeans. Read more

Chinese buyers could buy more from the United States for the price advantage during the Brazilian cargo export season, traders said.

Low crush margins, impacted by weak pork margins, continue to weigh on purchases of soybeans, which are ground into soybean meal for the livestock industry and cooking oil.

Farmers in the main producing southwestern province of Sichuan now lose about 240 yuan ($37.51) for every pig raised.

China’s hog margins have hovered mostly in negative territory since the middle of last year.

($1 = 6.3988 yuan)

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Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Christian Schmollinger

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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