INDIANAPOLIS — A Chinese delegation at the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s (USSEC) 2016 Global Trade Exchange meeting being held Aug. 30-Sept. 1 announced a commitment to buy 146 million bus — about 4 million tonnes — of U.S. soybeans worth nearly $1.8 billion. That represents a small, but nonetheless significant, portion of likely total sales of U.S. soybeans to China during the 2016-17 crop year that begins Sept. 1, 2016, Paul Burke, director of North Asia for USSEC, told World Grain, a sister publication of Milling & Baking News.
Evidence of the purchase was likely to show up within about the next three days in private sales to China reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he said. The U.S.D.A. on Aug. 31 reported export sales of 187,000 tonnes of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2016-17 crop year that begins Sept. 1, which Mr. Burke said was possibly a piece of the business the delegation said China was intending to make.
He said the Chinese announcement of the buying commitment was mostly a symbolic gesture because the decision to make the purchases already was made before the USSEC meeting. Nevertheless, the announcement of Chinese intentions to buy 4 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans was a cue to the market to expect sizable Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans soon, he said.
News of the commitment was viewed by both the Chinese delegation and the USSEC as a way to “highlight and showcase” the strong trade relationship between China and the United States, Mr. Burke said. In 2015-16, the United States sold a total of about 30 million tonnes of soybeans to China out of a total of about 83 million tonnes, he said, with the remainder of sales going mostly to Brazil and Argentina. The U.S.D.A. has forecast China will import about 86 million tonnes of soybeans from all sources in 2016-17. Mr. Burke said he expected the United States to capture about the same percentage of sales to China this crop year as it did in the previous year.
He said U.S. soybean sales to China would probably be concentrated early in the crop year, before supplies would become available in South America.“The price signals look good,” Mr. Burke noted.