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By Karl Plume and Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - A Chinese trade delegation on Thursday signed agreements to buy $1.8 billion worth of soybeans from the United States.
The delegation is in Chicago as part of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States.
The signing ceremony at a Chicago hotel was presided over by Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao.
No details on the tonnage, prices or shipment period were announced during the signing between the Chinese buyers and U.S. grain companies like Cargill Inc [CARG.UL], Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N) and Bunge Ltd (BG.N), but traders said the soy was likely for delivery in the 2011/12 (September-August) marketing year.
Trade sources said more soybean purchase agreements could be signed on Friday at another ceremony in Chicago which will include deals for China to purchase non-agricultural goods.
China is the world's largest soybean importer and the United States is the top exporter.
China is projected to import 57 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2010/11 marketing year which ends on Aug. 31, including 24 million tonnes from the United States. [ID:nN19250568] (Reporting by Karl Plume and Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Marguerita Choy)