May 8, 2019 / 4:37 AM / 17 days ago

China's April soybean imports rise as buyers delayed cargoes on tax change

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports in April jumped 10.7 percent from the same period a year earlier, customs data showed on Wednesday, as shipments delayed from March reached the world’s top oilseed buyer.

Imported soybeans are transported from a cargo ship at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

China imported 7.64 million tonnes of soybeans in April, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. That is up from 6.9 million tonnes a year earlier and up 55 percent from 4.92 million tonnes in March.

Soybean cargoes were delayed to arrive in April to take advantage of a cut in the value-added tax (VAT) on agricultural products effective from April 1.

“Soybean arrivals were not that big in March. Many have moved shipments to April due to VAT rate adjustment... Most of the cargoes were Brazilian beans. Some U.S. shipments were delayed as well,” said Xie Huilan, an analyst with Cofeed, an agribusiness research firm.

Imports for the first four months of 2019 were 24.39 million tonnes, down 7.9 percent from the same period last year, as high tariffs on shipments from the United States continued to curb imports.

China slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans last July as part of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The United States and Brazil were the two biggest suppliers of soybeans until the start of the trade war. 

The tariffs brought imports of U.S. beans to a virtual halt until the two countries agreed to a truce on Dec. 1. China has bought about 14 million tonnes of U.S. beans since then.

But another 6 million tonnes of anticipated purchases could be in jeopardy after U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Sunday he would impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods this Friday.

Demand for the oilseed has fallen after an epidemic of incurable African swine fever killed millions of pigs in China, the world’s top animal feed consumer.

Reporting by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu; editing by Christian Schmollinger

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