June 7, 2020 / 5:50 AM / 25 days ago

China's May soybean imports surge as Brazil shipments rise

BEIJING, June 7 (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports in May surged 27.4% from the previous year, as a large volume of shipments from top supplier Brazil arrived after weather improved in the South American country, customs data showed on Sunday.

China, the world’s top soybean importer, brought in 9.38 million tonnes of soybeans in May, up from last year’s 7.36 million tonnes.

The figures mark the highest monthly increase since December’s 9.54 million tonnes, and up from 6.714 million tonnes in April.

Rains in late February held back the harvest and exports in Brazil, affecting arrivals for March and April. Inventories of soybeans and soymeal in China fell to record-low levels, forcing some crushers to curb operations.

As weather improved in the South American country, however, shipments have increased. Brazilian soybean exports in April reached a record 16.3 million tonnes and an increase from 11.64 million tonnes in March.

“Crush margins for Brazilian beans were also looking good for May, so importers booked a lot of cargoes,” Xie Huilan, analyst with agriculture consultancy Cofeed, said before the data was released.

Traders expected massive soybean arrivals in June and July as well, exceeding 9 million tonnes a month, and well above normal levels.

China has also booked some cargoes of U.S. soybeans this year, to fulfil its pledge under the Phase 1 trade deal.

It was expected that China would likely to step up purchases of U.S. farm produce, including soybeans, but rising tensions between the two countries recently have clouded the trade prospect. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly; Additional reporting by Yawen Chen; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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