WASHINGTON: The US Soybean Export Council says the Chinese Ministry of Commerce may make a commitment to buy a record volume of US 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 organisation.
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 tonnes 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 US 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 tonnes in August and 6 million tonnes in September, from more than 9 million tonnes 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 tonnes in May and are up 20% so far this year, customs data show. Purchases in 2016-2017 may total a record 91 million tonnes, Yang also estimated.
China buys roughly one-quarter of the US soybean crop and is the biggest buyer of American farm goods overall, with US$22.3bil in purchases projected in the year that ends Sept 30, the US Department of Agriculture said last month.
While trade tensions have arisen between the two nations since the election of US President Donald Trump, his China envoy, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, has long-established ties with China and has pledged to boost US agricultural exports.
Along with the Des Moines ceremony, the delegation will tour US farms and port facilities in places including Seattle, while a US agricultural-trade delegation will visit China in September, according to the council. — Bloomberg