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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Trade Wars Responsible for Lower U.S. Soybean Exports


A recent article suggested that the emergence of African swine fever (ASF) was responsible for the precipitous drop in soybean exports to China.  Although authorities in China have been characteristically opaque as to the extent of infection, it is understood that close to one million hogs were depleted over three months to control the disease.  This represents less than 0.3 percent of the national herd and would therefore have an inconsequential effect on U.S. exports of soybeans.  The U.S. shipped 69,000 metric tons in December 2018 down from 2.6 million metric tons in December 2017.  The value of soybean shipped totaled $70 million down from $2.6 billion in December 2017. 


Brazil reputedly made up the difference between import demand by China and U.S. supply.  It is noted that prior to imposition of tariffs, importers in China including government-affiliated COFCO placed large orders in anticipation of increased tariffs. In advance of the imposition of tariffs on imported U.S. soybeans, nutritionists in China formulated diets with alternative oil seeds and downgraded specifications, reducing demand.


Pork consumption in China has dropped over concerns about ASF although authorities have emphasized that the virus is not transmitted to humans. Restoration of shipments from the U.S. will only continue after resolution of the current trade dispute.  China has committed to purchasing “extensive quantities” of soybeans and has placed orders through September totaling 4.5 million metric tons to be delivered before September 2019.


Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane