Soyabean imports to China increased 14.2% year-on-year in the first two months of 2020 as cargoes from the USA cleared customs following the two countries’ trade truce, Reuters reported on 3 March 2020.

China bought 13.51M tonnes in January and February, up from 11.83M tonnes in the same two months last year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

Instead of releasing data from individual months, the department said it had combined totals for the two months.

Tariffs exemptions had been granted to some Chinese soyabean crushers to import soyabeans from the USA, Reuters reported, but measures to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) had affected operating rates at crushing plants.

As of 10 March, China had reported 80,924 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 3,140 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Crushing rates were expected to start picking up as the virus containment measures eased due to falling infection rates in China.

Typically, soyabeans from the USA dominated the market in the fourth quarter and early months of the year, Reuters said.

At the same time, World Grain reported US agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue as saying that China had continued to make progress implementing its obligations under the US-China ‘phase one’ trade agreement signed on 15 January to end their bruising trade war.

Perdue’s statement followed news reports that had cast doubt over China’s ability to fulfil its commitments under the agreement due to the coronavirus outbreak.

China had taken several additional actions to meet its commitments, according to Perdue.

These included signing a protocol allowing imports of California nectarines and conditionally lifting a ban on imports of beef and beef products from animals over 30 months of age. China had also updated facilities approved for dairy, infant formula, seafood, fish oil and fish meal exports.