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China will reduce its imports of soybeans for the first time in 15 years

That would be the first decline since 2003/2004, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.


Devdiscourse News Desk 10 May 2018, 07:51 PM China, United States
China will reduce its imports of soybeans for the first time in 15 years
  • China's own soybean production will grow and the country expects its 2018/2019 harvest to rise 4.9 percent to 15.27 mn tonnes. (Image Credit: Reuters)

China will reduce its imports of soybeans for the first time in 15 years in 2018/19, the Ministry of Agriculture predicted on Thursday, as a commercial dispute with the United States leads to pig farmers in the world's largest buyer of the oilseed to look for cheaper proteins.

In its first projections for the next agricultural year, which begins in October, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said that imports of soybeans would fall 0.3 percent to 95.65 million tonnes.

That would be the first decline since 2003/2004, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The estimate comes after Beijing threatened to apply additional tariffs of 25 percent on imports of soybeans from the United States, China's second largest supplier, in retaliation for trade actions taken by President Donald Trump.

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The threat of such high tariffs has raised the prices of soybean meal and has made animal breeders look for an alternative source of protein for farms that already face pig costs at a minimum in several years.

"Although the development of animal breeders is driving an increase in the consumption of raw materials for food, the fall in profits for raising pigs will lead to less use of protein (...) and the growth of demand of soy flour will slow down, "the ministry said.

China's own soybean production will grow and the country expects its 2018/2019 harvest to rise 4.9 percent to 15.27 million tonnes, the ministry said.

The area of soybean cultivation will increase only 7.8 percent to 8.39 million hectares, although less rain in Inner Mongolia will reduce yields.

(With inputs from Reuters)