Chinese officials have pledged to purchase more than $4.5 billion worth of U.S. soybeans, equaling about 10% of U.S. soybean production, according to the United Soybean Board (USB). Representatives from 14 Chinese import companies signed contracts with eight U.S. soybean companies June 16 in St. Louis.
In addition to the various Chinese representatives, the Chinese Vice Premier, Wang Qishan, attended the ceremony.
"The Vice Premier's visit is an honor to all U.S. soybean farmers,” said Terry Ecker, USB director in a press release. "The Chinese are our No. 1 soybean export customer. This is an exciting opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers who work hard to meet strong demands for soy.”
The contracts signed in St. Louis are for the 2008-09 marketing year. USB said during the current marketing year, 436 million bushels of soybeans have been sold to China, representing 45% of all soybean exports. Last year's sales to China set a record for the most soybeans that the U.S. sold to a single country in one year.
Soybeans are the No. 1 U.S. ag export, valued at more than $10 billion annually. U.S. soybean exports have doubled, growing from 598 million bushels in 1990 to 1.4 billion bushels in 2007, according to USB.