China Stopped Buying U.S. Soybean Supplies

In a move that caught many in U.S. agriculture by surprise, China last month announced planned tariffs on American shipments of soybeans. China has essentially stopped buying U.S.soybean supplies amid the brewing trade war, Bunge Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said in a telephone interview:

Whatever they’re buying is non-U.S. They’re buying beans in Canada, in Brazil, mostly Brazil, but very deliberately not buying anything from the U.S. It’s “very clear” that the trade tensions have already stopped China from buying U.S. soybean supplies. How long that will last, who knows? But so long as there is this big cloud of uncertainty, that’s likely to continue. I would rather say that we would prefer that free trade and no disruptions take place because it’s not good for anyone. We are, by virtue of our footprint, in a very good position to deal with.

A decade ago, the United States supplied 38 percent of soybeans to China, the world’s top importer, compared to 34 percent from Brazil. Now, Brazil supplies 57 percent of Chinese imports compared to 31 from the United States, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. Protein is paramount for Chinese soybean importers, Brazilian soybean producers use the same genetically modified seeds as their U.S. counterparts. But Brazilian growers retain an crucial edge in protein thanks to warmer weather and longer days. The nation’s soybeans contain 37 percent protein on average, compared to 34.1 percent for U.S. crops in 2017.