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By Karl Plume
DES MOINES, Iowa, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Importers from China, the world’s top soybean buyer, signed agreements to buy a total of 13.18 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans valued at about $5.3 billion at a signing ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday.
Representatives from Chinese companies such as state-owned COFCO and Sinograin and privately-held Sunrise Group signed 24 contracts with U.S. companies, including Archer Daniels Midland Co and Cargill Inc, in one of the largest single-day soybean deals on record.
The deals were mostly for shipment in the 2015/16 (Sep/Aug) marketing year, although some of the agreements were for 2016/17, traders at the event said.
The United States is the world’s second-largest exporter of soybeans, which are crushed into soyoil for food production and soymeal for livestock feed.
Traders said the deals were mostly “frame contracts” with terms to be finalized at a later date.
“It’s a mix of frame contracts and actual sales contracts,” said Jim Sutter, chief executive of the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
Traders expect some of the signings to be confirmed as sales by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the coming days via the government’s daily sales reporting system, which requires exporters to promptly report deals totaling more than 100,000 tonnes in a single day.
Some exporters report such frame contracts as sales while others report them only after details of the deals are finalized, traders said.
U.S. soybean sales to China for the 2015/16 (Sep/Aug) season are off to the slowest start in seven years amid abundant global supplies and declining prices. Soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade are hovering near 6-1/2 year lows.
Also, China imported record volumes of South American soybeans this summer.
China is expected to import a record 79 million tonnes of soybeans in 2015/16, up 2 million from the prior season and the 12th straight year of higher year-on-year imports, according to the USDA. (Editing by Chris Reese)