(Bloomberg) -- Soybean imports by China, the top buyer, tumbled in June and in the first half as African swine fever slashed hog herds and cut demand for feed. Private Chinese companies are still not buying U.S. supplies because of 25% retaliatory tariffs on American imports imposed as part of the trade war.

  • China bought 6.51 million tons of soybeans last month, down from 7.36 million tons in May and from 8.70 million in June last year, according to official customs data.
  • First-half imports fell 15% from a year earlier to 38.27 million tons.

Key Insights

  • The U.S. trade war is clearly taking its toll. While state-owned companies have bought some American soybeans this year, private firms have stayed away, deterred by the retaliatory trade tariffs.
  • In May, the last month for which a breakdown is available, the U.S. supplied about 980,000 tons, out of total imports of 7.36 million, while Brazil shipped more than 6 million tons to the Asian country.
  • President Donald Trump has complained that China hasn’t increased its purchases of farm products, a promise he said was secured at a meeting with the country’s president, Xi Jinping, at the Group of 20 summit last month.
  • Data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate that China actually slowed its purchases of American agriculture products following the G-20 meeting. China bought 127,800 tons of U.S. soybeans last week, the equivalent of about two cargoes and a 79% reduction from the previous week.

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  • Edible vegetable oil imports in June were 805,000 tons, bringing the total in the first half to 4 million tons, 44% higher than a year earlier, customs data show.
  • The Agriculture Ministry’s outlook committee and the government’s think-tank have left estimates for this year’s soybean imports unchanged in recent reports

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Niu Shuping in Beijing at nshuping@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Kitanaka at akitanaka@bloomberg.net, James Poole

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