China buys more soybeans as its U.S. crop buying spree continues

Credit: REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

By Karl Plume

CHICAGO, July 15 (Reuters) - China's U.S. farm product buying spree continued on Wednesday, traders said, with private importers in the Asian nation booking more U.S. soybeans as the end of Brazil's export season approached.

Private buyers booked at least five cargoes of U.S. soybeans on Wednesday, or at least 300,000 tonnes, for shipment mostly in October and November from Gulf Coast and Pacific Northwest ports, two U.S. export traders with knowledge of the deals said.

The sales followed confirmation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday morning of a fresh round of corn and soybean purchases by China over the past 24 hours, the latest in a string of purchases.

They also come despite rising concerns that the top buyer of American agricultural goods would slow its import pace after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.

Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong's special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called "oppressive actions" against the former British colony, prompting Beijing to warn of retaliatory sanctions.

China would need to dramatically ramp up buying of U.S. farm products in the coming months to fulfill its Phase 1 commitment to import $36.5 billion in the first year of the deal signed in January. U.S. government data shows that China imported just over $6 billion worth of U.S. farm good from January to May.

Since Friday, the USDA has reported 3.259 million tonnes in U.S. corn purchases by China along with 518,000 tonnes of soybeans and 320,000 tonnes of hard wheat.

China, the world's top soy buyer, has been importing record volumes of Brazilian soybeans, but traders say the South American country's exportable surplus is nearly sold out.

(Reporting by Karl Plume, additional reporting by Mark Weinraub; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)

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