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30 Nov, 2018 10:32

Argentina seeks to capitalize on US-China trade war, loading up on cheap American soybeans

Argentina seeks to capitalize on US-China trade war, loading up on cheap American soybeans

Forty three US soybean ships have sailed for Argentina since July as the South American nation has raced to top the list of US soybean importers. Prices for the US crop have fallen by 15 percent due to Beijing’s import tariffs.

A ship named the Torrent is scheduled to dock in the Rosario grains hub on December 4, ending a 5,000-mile trip to carry soybeans from the US Great Lakes to Argentina.

The Torrent’s 20,000-tonne cargo is one of 14 ships the Argentine soy crusher Vicentin has lined up to import US soybeans, according to port data reviewed by Reuters. The shipments are among the first significant Argentine purchases from the United States in two decades.

“One of the consequences of the trade war is that US beans have to find a new home,” said Thomas Hinrichsen, president of Buenos Aires-based brokerage J.J. Hinrichsen SA, which cut the deals for Vicentin. “You are in the money to ship cheaper US beans into efficient crushing plants in Argentina.”

One of the world’s top soybean exporters, Argentina usually has no reason to import beans. However now, the country needs US beans to feed its massive soy-crushing industry after a drought. What is left of the nation’s own crops will go towards feeding pigs in China.

“The combination of the drought in Argentina and the soy glut in the United States caused by the trade conflict has directed US soybeans toward Argentina,” said Guillermo Wade, manager of Argentina’s Port and Maritime Activities Chamber. He added: “They are being used to keep our crushers working while freeing Argentine soybeans to go to China.”

Buenos Aires also seeks to export more soy and byproducts to India and Southeast Asia, according to Argentina’s International Trade Secretary Marisa Bircher. The country’s current top soymeal buyers include the European Union, Vietnam and Indonesia.

“Clearly, this US-China conflict is generating a change in the grain trade,” Bircher told Reuters, adding: “We have a very good relationship with China… we are negotiating to open the market to soybean meal before the end of the year.”

Also on rt.com Crop stop: Beijing plans complete ban on American soybeans as trade war escalates

Statistics from US Department of Agriculture showed that a year ago 282 soybean cargo vessels were loaded in the US bound for China and none to Argentina.

China, the world’s biggest soybean importer, has been curbing purchases of the crop from the US, and now seeks to stop imports altogether. The move was part of the escalating trade war between the two countries. In July, Beijing imposed a retaliatory 25-percent import duty on US soybeans as part of the tit-for-tat trade dispute with Washington.

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