RipeningSoybeanField oticki/ThinkstockPhotos

China reportedly studying restrictions on U.S. soybean imports

Commodities are particularly exposed to escalating trade tensions between the world’s biggest economies.

by Bloomberg News

China is studying the potential impact of trade measures imposed on soybeans imported from the U.S., valued last year at $13.9 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

China’s Ministry of Commerce has been studying the possibility of taking measures since January, including anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public. The ministry held a meeting on Tuesday with some Chinese companies to get feedback, and no conclusions were reached, they said.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council wasn’t invited to the meeting convened by the ministry with representatives from China’s importing and processing industries, Paul Burke, the Beijing-based North Asia regional director for the U.S. group, said in an email. 

The ministry “has been researching the implications on China and the Chinese crushing industry in the event U.S. soybeans have restricted market access,” Burke said. “No decisions were made or announced as to whether China will in fact restrict access.”

Commodities are particularly exposed to escalating trade tensions between the world’s biggest economies. China started an anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigation into U.S. grain sorghum on Feb. 4, less than two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines.

The ministry didn’t immediately comment. An official who answered a telephone call to the China Soybean Industry Association declined to comment. A final decision to take any steps would be taken by senior Chinese leadership.

China’s soybean imports have climbed to a record as expansion in large-scale livestock farming and a shortage of protein-rich feed grains boost soy-meal consumption. While the U.S. counts China as its biggest soybean market, the Asian country last year bought more of the oilseed from Brazil. 

--With assistance from Miao Han and Jeff Wilson.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Niu Shuping in Beijing at [email protected]; Alfred Cang in Singapore at [email protected]; Steven Yang in Beijing at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Phoebe Sedgman at [email protected]; Simon Casey at [email protected]

Patrick McKiernan

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

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