China Soybean Imports to Advance by 14%, Oil World Says

China will import 14 percent more soybeans in the first three months of 2012 than a year earlier because of declining oilseed output and rising demand, Hamburg-based Oil World said.

The Asian nation will import 12.5 million metric tons of soybeans from January through March this year, the oilseed researcher said in a report. Shipments to China totaled 4.12 million tons in January, up from 3.77 million tons in December, according to the report. Soybean exporters in the U.S., expected to be the second-biggest shipper behind Brazil in 2011-12, sold 2.923 million tons to China in the biggest one-day deal on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Feb. 17.

“China has stepped up purchases of U.S. soybeans and will have to do more in the weeks and months ahead,” Oil World said. “Due to the severe crop losses in South America, China has become more dependent on U.S. soybeans. In China, declining oilseed production and rising demand have further widened the production deficit, which must be filled with higher imports.”

Soybean futures have gained 6 percent this year, partly on speculation that demand from China will increase and as dry weather has cut South American production.

China said on Feb. 15 it would buy 8.62 million tons of soybeans valued at $4.3 billion from the U.S. Chinese importers COFCO and the Chinese National Grain Corporation bought oilseeds from Bunge Ltd., Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and Cargill Inc., Oil World said. More sales may be announced as China is planning for deals to total 12 million tons, the researcher said.

“Additional agreements are likely to be signed soon,” Oil World said. “Our latest analysis confirms that Chinese soybean imports are going to rise sizably and a further increase is likely to occur in April through September.”

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