by Alan Bjerga
The U.S. Soybean Export Council says the Chinese Ministry of Commerce may make a commitment to buy a record volume of U.S. soybeans when its officials are in Iowa next month.
Members of the ministry, a delegation from which is due to sign an accord in Des Moines on July 13, have discussed the possibility with the council’s top representative in China, said spokeswoman Lisa Humphreys of the Chesterfield, Missouri-based organization. No one at the ministry could immediately be reached for comment outside of normal business hours.
A record commitment would exceed the 13.4 million metric tons China agreed to buy in February 2012, also at a ceremony in Des Moines. Such an agreement this time around would show continued strength in U.S. soybean sales at a time when China’s appetite for the oilseed is showing signs of waning.
Chinese imports may decline to about 7 million tons in August and 6 million tons in September, from more than 9 million tons in both June and July, according to Yang Linqin, an analyst at COFCO Futures Co. Its soybean imports reached an all-time high of 9.6 million tons in May and are up 20 percent so far this year, customs data show. Purchases in 2016-17 may total a record 91 million tons, Yang also estimated.
China buys roughly one-quarter of the U.S. soybean crop and is the biggest buyer of American farm goods overall, with $22.3 billion in purchases projected in the year that ends Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last month. While trade tensions have arisen between the two nations since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, his China envoy, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, has long-established ties with China and has pledged to boost U.S. agricultural exports.
Along with the Des Moines ceremony, the delegation will tour U.S. farms and port facilities in places including Seattle, while a U.S. agricultural-trade delegation will visit China in September, according to the council.
--With assistance from Niu Shuping.
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