China Will Tighten U.S. Soybean Export Standards, USDA Says

December 20, 2017 12:10 PM
 
Soybeans in sunset

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 Soy Shipments in Jeopardy

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.”

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