China has imported 9 million metric tons (mmt) of corn in the first 11 months of 2020, China's largest-ever corn import total. The corn import total exceeded the country's 7.2-mmt tariff rate quota (TRQ) for the first time as of October after falling short of the quota every year since it was established in 2001. An additional 1.23 mmt imported during November pushed the 2020 total even further beyond the quota.
|Source: China customs statistics.|
China's January-November 2020 imports of corn from the United States totaled 3.285 mmt, a more than 10-fold increase from the 2019 total and the largest total since 2013. While efforts to meet purchase commitments from the U.S. in the Phase One agreement are one factor behind the surge, Ukraine remains the top supplier of China's imported corn in 2020 with over 5.2 mmt. Imports from Ukraine also increased this year. Other countries--including Bulgaria, Russia, Laos, and Myanmar--supplied 531,000 mt of corn through November, up nearly 200,000 mt from the 2019 total.
The surge in corn imports appears less dramatic when considered in context of China's overall feed imports. China's imports of corn, sorghum, barley, DDGS, and cassava combined totaled 23.6 mmt in Jan-Nov 2020. That total is up 9 mmt from 2019, but about "normal" in historical context. Combined corn-sorghum-barley-DDGS-cassava imports peaked at over 42 mmt during 2015 when Chinese feed mills were eager to find substitutes for pricey domestic corn. The non-corn feed imports deflated in 2016 and subsequent years with the end of the corn price support, anti-dumping/countervailing duties on U.S. DDGS and sorghum, a new set of duties imposed during the trade war, and AD/CV duties on Australian barley this year. In 2020, sorghum imports bounced back after retaliatory duties were lifted, but imports of DDGS remain minimal.
|*2020 data through October.|