China August soybean imports jump nearly 10% as cargoes arrive after delay

FILE PHOTO: Workers transport imported soybean products at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports in August jumped 9.7% from the previous month to hit the highest level in nearly one-and-half-years, customs data showed on Sunday, as some shipments booked earlier cleared customs after a delay.

August’s imports of 9.48 million tonnes were up from 8.64 million tonnes in July, and also ahead of 9.15 million tonnes in August last year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

“Some cargoes from the United States did not get loaded earlier and only cleared customs in August,” said Xie Huilan, analyst with industry portal before the data was released.

Beijing slapped 25% tariffs on a list of U.S. products including soybeans in July last year, in a response to similar measures by Washington, effectively curbing shipments of the oilseed from the United States, China’s second largest supplier before the trade war.

Chinese state firms resumed some purchases of American soybeans following a bilateral truce in December in the Sino-U.S. trade war. Tensions between Beijing and Washington have since escalated again, as they kicked off a new round of tariffs at the start of this month.

Chinese demand, however, has been dampened by a year-old outbreak of deadly African swine fever in the world’s top pig producer.

The country’s hog herd has shrunk by almost a third since a year ago, according to official data.

China bought 56.31 million tonnes of soybeans in the first eight months of the year, down 9.2% from last year, customs data showed.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; editing by Richard Pullin