China’s soybean import pattern went through dramatic changes after the country decided to impose an additional 25 percent tariff on US soybean imports in July 2018.
Chinese importers have gradually shifted to domestic producers and products from other countries in an effort to replace US soybeans due to the rise in price.
China is the world’s largest soybean consumer, and over 80 percent of its soybeans are imported. Brazil and the US, two major sources of soybeans for China, contributed to more than 60 percent of China’s annual soybean imports.
Heilongjiang-based Jiusan Group, a major soybean processing enterprise, handles about 12 million tons of soybeans each year. About 8 million tons of soybeans processed by the company were imported, in which the US soybeans accounted for 40 percent.
However, Jiusan Group halted purchase from the US since the second half of 2018.
According to Zhang Lichen, vice-president of the company, the price of US soybeans was at least 700 to 800 yuan ($102 to $117) higher than before since the 25 percent tariff came in effect.
Enterprises expanded imports from South America and are trying to enlarge imports from Canada and Russia as a countermeasure, Zhang explained.
He cited imports from Brazil as an example, saying that the portion of soybeans from Brazil had been raised to around 65 percent from the original 50 percent.
Chinese enterprises basically stopped imports of soybeans from the US since this July. As a result, Russia and Canada, who have been optimistic about the Chinese market, are planning to increase exports of soybeans to China.
“The Chinese market is huge, and we don’t think too much about the ongoing changes in international trade patterns,” said the general manager of a Russian agricultural complex in Amur Oblast.
The rising price of the crop also enhanced the competitiveness of domestic soybeans which were at a competitive disadvantage.
It has been confirmed that since the end of April this year, the Heilongjiang government has raised subsidies for soybean growers from 200 to 210 yuan per mu (0.067 hectare) to further encourage soybean production.
Insiders predicted that the increased subsidy will help expand to nearly 10 million mu of soybean plantations, making the national total increase to 127 million mu. In general, China’s soybean supply will maintain stable, and the high dependence on foreign countries will be relieved.