U.S. officials will impose stricter quality controls on exports of soybeans headed to China in response to a request from the government in Beijing, a move that may curb some American shipments.
Shipments with impurity levels below a new standard of 1 percent, half the current level, will receive priority for shipment, while soybeans above it may be held back for more cleaning, U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman William Wepsala said in a telephone interview Wednesday. The new standard may go into effect Jan. 1, he said.
China’s government made the request to the U.S. in early December, Wepsala said. A spokesman at China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine declined to comment.
China is by far the biggest destination for U.S. soybean exports, with sales of $14.2 billion of the oilseed in 2016, more than one-third of the value of the nation’s crop.
The new rules mean “the U.S. is going to lose some business,” said Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures for ED&F Man Capital Markets in Chicago. American shippers will have to pay a premium for supplies that meet the higher standards, he said. “There are no such certificates required for Brazil beans.”