The Agricultural Trade Promotion Center of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported that China's agricultural imports for January-July 2020 totaled $96.2 billion, up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier. The increase came despite an economic slowdown and logistics disruptions during this year's covid-19 pandemic. China's agricultural exports totaled $41.9 billion, down 3.3 percent from a year earlier. The Center did not report trade numbers for individual trading partners.
Livestock products were the largest component of agricultural imports reported by the Center. The $28.3-billion livestock total exceeded the $23.8-billion value of oilseed imports for the first time.
The 42.2-percent increase in livestock import value was stimulated by the country's huge meat supply deficit after last year's African swine fever epidemic decimated China's swine herd. China has a net trade surplus for vegetables and aquatic products, but imports exceeded imports for all other major categories of agricultural products. Imports of cereal grains are also up 45 percent so far in 2020, but their $4.2-billion value was much lower than that of livestock and oilseed imports.
Aquatic product imports fell 10 percent so far this year, reflecting a drop in trade during China's peak pandemic months and Chinese authorities' assertion that frozen salmon, shrimp and other seafood can transmit the covid-19 virus. The value of China's cotton imports is down 31 percent this year, due to a textile industry slowdown.
The quantity of meats and soybeans imported rose significantly. China imported nearly 2.5 million metric tons of pork in the first seven months of 2020, up 150 percent from a year earlier. Imports of pork offal totaled 837,000 metric tons, up a more modest 26.6 percent. Beef imports of 1.2 million metric tons were up 41.5 percent from last year. The Center did not report poultry imports. Mutton imports were steady and milk powder imports were down 3 percent.
Soybean imports totaled 55 million metric tons for January-July, up 17.6 percent from 2019. Imports of edible oils were steady at 6 million metric tons. The volume of soybean oil, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil imports were up this year, but palm oil imports fell by nearly 20 percent.
China's wheat imports more than doubled to near 4.3 million metric tons, and corn imports increased 30.7 percent to 4.57 million metric tons. Sorghum imports rebounded to 2.3 million metric tons, but imports of DDGS are just 31,000 metric tons so far in 2020. Cotton imports by volume were down 21.7 percent this year and imports of cotton yarn were down 12.3 percent.
China's imports of major agricultural commodities,