Sunday, October 14, 2018

China Sept Soybean Imports 8mmt

China's September imports of soybeans and other agricultural products were relatively steady, and the market-year total was slightly ahead of last year's. But Brazil's supply of soybeans is entering its seasonal lull.

The value of September agricultural imports reported by China Customs was $11.8 billion, down from $12.7 billion in August, but 8.8% more than the $10.66 billion imported a year ago during September 2017. September soybean imports were valued at $3.43 billion, down from nearly $4 billion in August but slightly ahead of the $3.3 billion value from a year earlier.

The volume of soybean imports totaled 8 million metric tons during September, down from 9.15 mmt imported during August, but nearly identical to the volume imported a year earlier. According to customs statistics, the 12-month import total for October 2017-September 2018 was 94 million metric tons, up from 93.5 mmt during 2016/17.

The average value of soybean imports per metric ton actually fell slightly during September. The average $428 per metric ton was down from $433 in August, but about 5% higher than a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Brazilian customs data show that China got 55 mmt of the 69 mmt of soybeans Brazil exported during January-September 2018. In August (which would roughly correspond to China's September imports) Brazil exported 6.9 mmt of soybeans to China. Brazil's soybean exports to China fell to 4.2 mmt in September as Brazil's supplies started to run low.

Chinese market commentary has noted that Brazilian prices quoted to Chinese importers have started to rise in recent weeks. U.S. soybean prices have fallen low enough to be roughly comparable to Brazilian prices after assessing China's 25% retaliatory tariff on the U.S. beans. On October 12, the National Grain and Oils Information Center estimated that the CNF price of Brazilian soybeans for arrival in China was $465/mt, about 25% higher than the $348/mt CNF price for soybeans from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. After adding tariffs, value added tax, and unloading fees, Brazilian beans would cost RMB 3708/mt and U.S. Gulf beans would cost RMB 3666/mt.

Chinese commentators agree that the November-January months will be the key period for determining how China's soybean and soybean meal markets are able to withstand the impacts of trade tensions with the United States. One commentator foresees a soybean supply deficit of "about 10 million metric tons."

Soybean meal stocks in China are reported to be at a comfortable level, but speculation about the prospects for supply and demand in coming months has driven cash prices up. According to quotes posted on, soybean meal prices on October 12 were up 11% higher from a month earlier. The November-January months are typically peak production months as livestock producers gear up for the winter holidays. However, this year there is much uncertainty about how African Swine Fever will affect swine production.

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