China Cancels U.S. Soybean Purchases as Trade War Takes Hold

July 6, 2018, 3:18 PM UTC

The trade war may have just started, but China has already been making moves in the soybean world as U.S. shipments originally destined for the nation have been canceled or rerouted.

China lowered commitments to buy 366,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans in the season that ends Aug. 31 and cut purchases by 66,000 tons in the following year. That’s according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data released Friday for the week ended June 28. About 60,000 tons originally slated for China this season will now go to Bangladesh and another 60,000 tons to Pakistan.

Soybeans are on the hit list of American goods now being targeted by Chinese tariffs that went into effect Friday after the U.S. implemented a raft of duties earlier in the day and President Donald Trump threatened more action. The oilseed is the top agricultural commodity that the U.S. ships to China by far and is among the largest products for overall exports.

Why Soybeans Are at the Heart of the U.S.-China Trade War

One ship laden with U.S. soybeans steaming toward China — the bulk carrier Peak Pegasus — appears to have lost the race to arrive before the import duties were imposed. The vessel is near the port of Dalian, according to ship-tracking data. China still has outstanding sales of about 771,000 tons of U.S. soybeans in the 2017-2018 marketing year and 1.39 million tons in the following season, USDA records show.

China also cut its purchases for cotton by 8,100 running bales in the 2017-18 season, the weekly USDA showed. Some fiber originally sold to China was redirected to Vietnam. A a running bale weighs 500 pounds, or 227 kilograms.

Most-active soybean futures are trading near a two-year low on the Chicago Board of Trade and the cheap price is attracting other buyers. Total net-sales of 1.02 million tons were more than double the same week last year.