August 8, 2018 / 4:02 AM / a year ago

China's July soybean imports fall as panic buying due to trade war ebbs

A worker looks on as imported soybeans are transported at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China August 6, 2018. Picture taken August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports in July fell from a month ago, customs data showed on Wednesday, as processors slowed purchases after building up a record inventory of the oilseed in preparation for hefty import tariffs on U.S. shipments introduced last month.

China, the world’s largest soy buyer, brought in 8.01 million tonnes of soybeans in July, down 8 percent from 8.70 million tonnes in June, figures from the General Administration of Customs of China showed.

The figures were down 20.6 percent from last year’s 10 million tonnes, the highest arrivals on record as ports at the time cleared a months-long backlog of cargoes.

Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on a list of American products totalling $34 billion, including soybeans, on July 6, in response to U.S. penalties on Chinese goods of a similar value.

Chinese firms have been heavy buyers of Brazilian beans in recent months in anticipation of Beijing’s imposition of tariffs. Large arrivals of the oilseed have led to record stockpiles of soymeal and driven crush margins into negative territory.

Soybean imports in the first seven months of the year were at 52.88 million tonnes, down 3.7 percent from last year’s 54.89 million tonnes, the data showed.

Imports of vegetable oils in July were 506,000 tonnes, down 2.7 percent from the previous month but up 87.4 percent from a year ago.

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Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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