An annual conference for U.S. soybean exporters drew a delegation from China to Missouri this week, but the event wrapped Wednesday without any known sales to Chinese buyers, Reuters reports.
Amid trade strife between the world’s two largest economies and Chinese tariffs on American soybeans, Chinese demand for U.S. soybeans has evaporated.
That didn’t stop a Chinese contingent from attending the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s Global Trade Exchange in Kansas City and visiting a farm about 60 miles to the northeast, in Norborne.
The delegation included top Chinese soybean processors COFCO and Yihai Kerry, plus Chinese representatives of U.S. companies Cargill and Bunge.
Mu Yan Kui, COO of Yihai Kerry, said a prolonged trade conflict would “definitely reshape the global market” for soybeans.
American exporters are loath to lose their foothold in a market they’ve spent decades developing and that accounted for $12 billion — or about 60 percent — of U.S. soybean exports last year. Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, said his organization is continuing to run promotional and educational programs in China despite the tariffs.
Since the tariffs kicked in, China has bought soybeans almost exclusively from Brazil. But one Chinese buyer in Kansas City said his country’s importers may turn back to the U.S. when Brazil’s supply of soybeans diminishes, driving prices there up.