China’s 2018/19 soyabean imports are projected to drop by 10% to 85M tonnes as a result of ongoing trade tensions with the USA and an outbreak of African swine fever, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on 2 November.

The country’s 25% tariff on US soyabeans was spurring efforts to slash their imports and reduce their use in feed, World Grain said.

“Although US soyabeans remain in a competitive price range even with the additional 25% tariff, many importers have shared that they are unwilling to risk facing possible administrative barriers to US soyabean imports at Chinese ports,” the USDA said. “Importers are also wary of making what may be perceived in China as a political statement in deciding to purchase US soyabeans during the ongoing US-China trade dispute.”

As well as the China’s interest in reducing soyabean consumption, African swine fever detected in Chinese swine herds in August was expected to curb feed demand and lead to a slight decrease of 2.6M tonnes in soyabean meal imports for 2018/19 to 66.6M tonnes.

“Rapeseed meal, sunflower seed meal, and fish meal feed use will see moderate increases,” the USDA said. “Taken together, the reduction in soyabean feed use and slight increases in other protein meals feed use will result in an overall soyabean meal-equivalent use for feed of 85.9M tonnes in 2018/19, a decrease of 1.7M tonnes compared to the previous year.”

Despite the Chinese government increasing subsidies for producers, 2018/19 domestic oilseed production only increased 0.2% over the previous year to 58.95M tonnes. The USDA said 2018/19 soyabean ending stocks were forecast at 20M tonnes, slightly lower than the previous year based on the Chinese government’s resumption of sales from the soyabean reserve and decreased imports.