Brazil exports 80 percent of soy to China in January-August: agriculture ministry

A worker inspects soybeans during the soy harvest near the town of Campos Lindos, Brazil February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil exported 50.9 million tonnes of soybeans to China from January to August, or 78.8 percent of its total exports of the oilseed, as a trade war with the U.S. drives up the Asian nation’s demand for soy from alternative sources.

That compares with 44.1 million tonnes of soybeans that Brazil exported to China in the same period last year, accounting for 77.5 percent of the country’s total exports of the commodity, the agriculture ministry reported on Friday.

Brazil’s overall soybean exports are up 20 percent year-on-year to $25.72 billion by value, for the period, hitting a record of 64.6 million tonnes by volume.

China has sought out alternative sources for soybeans after slapping a 25 percent tariff on the oilseed and a raft of other commodities in July in response to tariffs instituted by U.S. President Donald Trump. Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, has been a prime target.

But Brazil’s higher than usual soybean exports are driving down stocks, indicating the country likely will not have much more to offer China until it begins harvesting its next crop in January.

Soy exports to China accounting for nearly 30 percent of Brazil’s overall agriculture exports, underlining its increasing reliance on the Asian country.

Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Susan Thomas