Trade war and swine fever crushing China soybean imports

China's soybean imports fell 11.5 percent in June from May, customs data showed today (12 July), as the Sino-US trade war and an outbreak of deadly African swine fever curb demand.
calendar icon 12 July 2019
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China brought in 6.51 million tonnes of soybeans in June, down from 7.36 million tonnes in May, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. It brought in 8.7 million tonnes in June last year.

While Chinese buyers last year scooped up Brazilian supplies in anticipation of hefty tariffs on US cargoes, importers this year were better prepared with stocks. At the same time, African swine fever has slashed the size of the pig herd and cut feed demand.

"The June figures were expected to be lower than last year due to the trade war and African swine fever," Xiang Bo, an analyst with Zheshang Securities, said before the data was released.

China slapped a 25 percent tariff on US soybeans last July as part of a trade war between the world's two largest economies, bringing imports of US beans to a halt until the two countries agreed to a truce on last December.

Chinese state firms resumed some buying of US soybeans following the truce until trade relations deteriorated again in early May.

Importers again held off on purchases of US cargoes before a large soybean sale to China was announced in late June, a day before a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Deadly African swine fever outbreaks across China have also killed over a million pigs, cutting demand for soymeal in the world's top pig producer.

China has reported more than 140 outbreaks of African swine fever since it was first detected in the country in early August 2018.

For the first six months this year, China imported 38.27 million tonnes of soybeans, down 14.7 percent from the same period last year.

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