China's April soybean imports from U.S. up 15.9% month-on-month, Brazilian imports soar

FILE PHOTO: Imported soybeans are transported from a cargo ship at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports from the United States rose in April, helped by an earlier easing of trade tensions with Washington, while imports from Brazil surged after buyers backloaded their March orders to benefit from a tax cut on agricultural products.

China, the world’s top soybean buyer, brought in 1.75 million tonnes of the oilseed from the United States, up 15.9% from 1.51 million tonnes in March, according to data from the General Administration of Customs released on Saturday.

Soybean imports from the United States, China’s second-largest supplier, slid to a virtual halt after Beijing slapped a 25 percent tariff on American cargoes last July in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

After the pair agreed to a truce on Dec. 1, limited buying resumed. China has bought about 14 million tonnes of U.S. beans since then.

But another 6 million tonnes of anticipated purchases could be in jeopardy as Sino-U.S. trade relations entered deadlock again earlier this month.

The April data precedes the this month’s escalation in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Meanwhile, China in April bought 5.79 million tonnes of soybeans from Brazil, more than doubling the 2.79 million tonnes in March, customs data showed.

For the month, China’s soybean imports hit 7.64 million tonnes, up 11% from March, as buyers scheduled cargoes to arrive in April to take advantage of a cut in value-added tax (VAT) on agricultural products effective from April 1.

China crushes soybeans to produce soymeal for its massive livestock herds, but an African swine fever epidemic has dampened domestic demand for animal feed.

Reporting by Hallie Gu, Tom Daly and Yawen Chen; Editing by Sam Holmes