* Chinese companies sign soy purchase deals
* They will purchase 8.62 million tonnes
* Companies will sign more deals in Los Angeles
By Carey Gillam
DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb 15 A Chinese trade
delegation signed agreements with U.S. grain companies on
Wednesday to buy 8.62 million tonnes of soybeans from the United
States and will ink more deals on Thursday for a record-setting
purchase topping 12 million tonnes.
Chinese powerhouses like COFCO Co Ltd, the country's
largest state-owned grain trading house, and Sinograin, which
manages state grain reserves, signed deals in Des Moines, Iowa,
with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge Ltd, and
Cargill Inc, among others .
The Chinese delegation was expected to sign more purchase
agreements in Los Angeles on Thursday, which would bring the
total amount to a record of more than 12 million tonnes, said
Kirk Leeds, director of the Iowa Soybean Association.
The soybeans will come from supplies harvested last fall and
the crop that will be planted this spring. The value of the
purchases in total will be around $6 billion.
At a similar event last year, Chinese companies signed
deals to buy 11.56 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans valued at
$6.68 billion in the then largest one-off purchase of U.S. soy.
The high-profile event comes at a time when the United
States and China are at odds over a series of issues like
Beijing's currency policy, international action to quell the
violence in Syria and a yawning bilateral trade gap.
"There is a lot of publicity about Chinese imports here.
They want to remind Americans this is a two-way street. They buy
from us, too," said Leeds, who helped arrange a visit by Xi to
an Iowa soybean farm scheduled for Thursday morning.
The signing also comes at a time in which the United States
has accused China of undervaluing its currency to give its
companies a price advantage in international trade.
"They are keeping their trade lines open despite their
currency issue that has not only upset the United States but the
rest of the world as well," said Shelley Goldberg, director of
global resources and commodities strategy at research group
Roubini Global Economics in New York.
Goldberg said it was uncertain if China was buying the
soybeans for consumption or stockpiling.
The deals, signed after trading at the Chicago Board of
Trade had ended for the day, were cheered by grain traders.
"This is a little surprising," said Rich Nelson, director of
research at advisory firm Allendale Inc.
"They had previously made announcements that they would not
be buying as much as last year," he said, adding that the
purchases could boost CBOT soybean futures by 5 to 10 cents a