China slashes 2018-19 soybean import forecast as tensions with US crimp buying

By Reuters–Global Times Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2018/9/12 16:53:40

China on Wednesday slashed its forecast for 2018-19 soybean imports as farmers reduce their use of the bean in animal feed because of the US-China trade conflict, leading the government to raise its supply deficit estimate.

Imports of soybeans in the crop year that starts on October 1 will be 83.65 million tons, down 10.2 million tons from last month's estimate of 93.85 million tons, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in its monthly crop report.

The forecast is lower than the 93.9 million tons imported during the 2017-18 crop year.

The ministry said the lower forecast for soybean imports was due to the promotion of lower-protein feed for livestock and poultry.

The government also raised its estimate for corn demand due to rising feed consumption and increasing ethanol production and as soybean imports fall.

While the size of the soybean import cuts are largely in line with broader industry forecasts, the report marks the first official assessment by the government on the impact of the trade war.

The outlook illustrates how China's vast pig farming sector is rapidly adjusting to a possible prolonged trade dispute with Washington. In July, Beijing levied an additional 25 percent tariff on US soybeans, threatening supplies from the second-largest exporter of the oilseed to China.

The import outlook changes pushed the 2018-19 soybean deficit forecast to 3.57 million tons from 250,000 tons in August, according to the report.

The ministry also raised its 2018-19 domestic soybean output forecast to 15.83 million tons from 15.37 million tons in August.

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