BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports from the United States fell 2.5% in June compared with the same month a year earlier, customs data showed on Saturday, as renewed trade tensions between Beijing and Washington curbed buying.
China brought in 614,805 tonnes of soybeans from the United States, down 2.5% from June 2018. The figures were also down 37% from 977,024 tonnes in May.
The fall in imports also came as an outbreak of African swine fever disease swept the country, ravaging China’s huge pig herd, leading to the death or culling of millions of hogs and a slide in demand for soymeal feed.
China’s June soybean imports from top supplier Brazil also fell 29.9% from the previous year, to 5.5 million tonnes. The figures were down from 6.3 million tonnes in May.
The United States was the second-largest supplier of soybeans to China before the trade war, but imports from the country fell sharply after Beijing slapped tariffs of 25% on U.S. cargoes.
Chinese state firms resumed some purchases of U.S. cargoes following a trade truce last December, but buying ebbed after tension escalated again in May.
Beijing briefed private importers last Friday on a plan to boost purchases of U.S. supplies, in an apparent goodwill gesture to Washington. But there have been no apparent signs of recent sales.
(This story has been refiled to change day to Saturday in paragraph 1).
Reporting by Hallie Gu, Stella Qiu, Shivani Singh; Editing by Mark Potter