China avoiding US soybeans over trade issues, Bunge CEO says

The world’s biggest oilseed processor confirmed one of the soybean market’s biggest fears: China has essentially stopped buying United States supplies amid the brewing trade war, according to a report from Bloomberg Business.

“Whatever they’re buying is non-U.S.,” Bunge Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg May 2. “They’re buying beans in Canada, in Brazil, mostly Brazil, but very deliberately not buying anything from the U.S.”

In April, China announced it planned to impose tariffs on American shipments of soybeans. It’s “very clear” that the trade tensions have already stopped China from buying U.S. supplies, Schroder told Bloomberg. “How long that will last, who knows? But so long as there is this big cloud of uncertainty, that’s likely to continue.”

In response, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, said in a statement, “Soybean farmers are my neighbors. Iowans who farm soybeans and other agricultural products form the backbone of Iowa’s economy. Soybean prices are low, and farmers are barely making ends meet. China is the largest consumer of U.S. soybeans, buying up nearly 60 percent of our soybean exports.

“If that market closes, it could be devastating for local communities across the Midwest. It’s also important to remember that when trade barriers go up, alternative sources of goods are found, and new trading relationships develop. A temporary setback could quickly develop into a permanent loss.

“The U.S. must stand up to China’s unfair practices. But as I’ve said before, if the federal government takes action on trade that directly results in economic hardship for certain Americans, it has a responsibility to help those Americans and mitigate the damage it caused. In the short-term, the administration should be prepared to take action to help farmers if they are harmed by price collapses related to retaliation. In the longer-term, the administration should help find alternative foreign markets.

“I plan on continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and with the administration to address these issues.”

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or [email protected].