May 23, 2018 / 4:50 AM / a year ago

China's April sorghum imports surged ahead of dumping tariffs: customs

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s imports of sorghum rose sharply in April from a year earlier, customs data showed on Wednesday, as buyers brought in large volumes of the feed grain ahead of Beijing’s anti-dumping decision made at the peak of Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

FILE PHOTO: A field of sorghum (milo) grain is seen at a farm outside of Texhoma, Oklahoma, U.S., in this undated photo released to Reuters on April 3, 2018. Courtesy Jerod McDaniel/Handout via REUTERS

China imported 640,000 tonnes of sorghum in April, up 87 percent on a year ago, ahead of a huge anti-dumping deposit announced by Beijing on April 17 after a two-month investigation. The country imports almost all of its sorghum from the United States.

News of the deposit, which still came earlier than the trade had expected, prompted several more cargoes of the grain already shipped from the United States to China to be resold to other countries before reaching Chinese ports.

April sorghum imports were up 12.3 percent from last month’s 570,014 tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Beijing dropped the U.S. sorghum probe and anti-dumping deposit last week in a goodwill concession as the two sides held talks to resolve trade tensions. But the damage to shipments was already done and trade flows have been disrupted, traders said.

While the China customs data did not break down countries of origin, the impact of tit-for-tat tariffs between China and the United States was reflected in some other products.

Shipments of barley, used in feed and brewing, and an alternative to sorghum, rose 2.6 pct from last year’s 1.1 million tonnes to 1.12 million tonnes, and were up 30.2 percent from 860,000 tonnes in March.

Beijing in early April increased tariffs by up to 25 percent on 128 U.S. products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, although the impact on overall imports was not clear.

China’s pork imports fell 19 percent in April from March to 110,098 tonnes, but were still up 3.4 percent year on year. Imports were also pushed down by falling domestic pork prices, analysts said.

China bought 560,000 tonnes of fresh and dried fruits and nuts in April, up 31.6 percent from the previous year.

Imports of logs in April dropped 11.4 percent on year to 4.21 million cubic meters, as China ramped up inspections of imports of the wood from the United States.

China bought 380,000 tonnes of corn in April, more than six times the 60,000 tonnes imported in March, having imported zero corn in April 2017.

Sugar imports rose 140.5 percent year on year to 470,000 tonnes in April, also up 23.7 percent from 380,000 tonnes in March, as some shipments delayed earlier at port arrived.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; editing by Richard Pullin

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