Chinese ag importers accelerated imports of US ags, even as trade tensions between the two countries flared back up.
The US dispatched 205,900 tonnes of soybeans, 59,400 tonnes of sorghum, 74,800 running bales of cotton and 4,600 tonnes of pork to China in the week to last Thursday, US Department of Agriculture data showed.
In all cases, that was more than in shipped in the previous week.
The acceleration came even as the US threatened fresh tariffs on imports from China, enacted on Friday, and with Beijing proposing retaliatory levies on $60bn of imports from the US too, from the beginning of next month.
No cause for complacency
Not that US ag exporters should take too much comfort from this trend.
Chinese buyers may have shipped in haste in an effort to beat the latest draft of Chinese levies on imports, which does not in fact come into force until June 1 (and which actually does not increase duties on many US ags, including pork and soybeans).
Fresh orders, meanwhile, were signally lacking, represented only by small order of pima cotton, and a bigger sale of hides.
Meanwhile, Chinese importers scrapped orders of some US pork and sorghum.
So far, at 3,200 tonnes and 5,600 tonnes respectively, these cancellations are not severe.
But there is scope for these wash-outs to increase, with Chinese buyers having, for example, 645,000 running bales of upland cotton, 95,500 tonnes of pork, and 7.21m tonnes of soybeans still on order for 2018-19 delivery, but not yet shipped.
For such supplies to be put back onto the US balance sheet would not be helpful for values, especially for soybeans, of which China’s orders are the equivalent of 14% of US production.
The last thing that US farmers want is for the fresh US-China storm to gather enough bluster to blow out the light at the end of the tunnel ignited by this week’s ag price rises.