USDA Confirms Biggest U.S. Soy Sale to China Since June

01:48PM Aug 07, 2020
U.S., China
U.S. soybean sales to China
( MGN Online and Darrell Smith )

By Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday reported private sales of U.S. soybeans to China of 456,000 tonnes, the biggest single-day soy sale to the world's top buyer since June 11.

Smaller sales were reported on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as sales to unknown destinations on Monday.

The deals came despite rising political tensions between Washington and Beijing. U.S. President Donald Trump cranked up antagonism on Friday by banning U.S. transactions with two popular Chinese apps, WeChat and TikTok, rattling global equity markets.

"(China's) purchases of our products - corn, wheat, grain sorghum, soybeans, pork - are continuing at a rapid pace, without regard to any geopolitical tensions," said Bill Lapp, president of Nebraska-based Advanced Economic Solutions.

China's soybean imports rose 18% this year through July versus a year ago, as large volumes of soybeans from Brazil arrived, according to Chinese customs data.

The Asian country has increasingly turned to U.S. supplies in recent weeks, with the USDA reporting China bought nearly 5.2 million tonnes of U.S. corn, along with 3 million tonnes of soybeans and 320,000 tonnes of hard wheat since July 10.

But China is still far behind the pace needed to meet its commitment of buying $36.5 billion under a Phase 1 deal. The United States exported just $7.274 billion in agricultural goods to China in the first half of the year, according to U.S. Census Bureau trade data.

The benchmark November soybean futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade fell to a five-week low of $8.69-1/4 a bushel despite the latest sale.

Lapp noted that the USDA has projected U.S. soybean exports for the 2020/21 marketing year, which begins on Sept. 1, at 55.8 million tonnes, up from 44.9 million tonnes in 2019/20.

"In terms of U.S. soybean exports rising ... you are going have to sell a lot more," Lapp said.