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Australia ships 600,000 mt of wheat to China in Dec amid trade tensions

Singapore — Australia had shipped about 600,000 mt of wheat to China in December 2020, making China the number one destination for Australia's wheat exports during the month, according to a shipping line up seen by S&P Global Platts Jan. 12.

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Another 110,000 mt of wheat has been allocated for shipment in this month.

These volumes were most likely booked before September, when trade tensions between the two countries escalated following China's warning that it would heighten inspection of Australian wheat vessels.

However, it is unclear whether all the wheat shipments will be accepted once it reaches China's shores.

"Outside of politics, buyers in China won't want to default cause the cargoes were pretty cheap," a trader in Australia, who avoided sale commitments to China for the 2020/21 marketing year due to increased uncertainty of the trade dispute, said.

After China, Vietnam and Indonesia had imported the highest volume of wheat from Australia, taking 265,000 mt each in December, followed by the Philippines at 184,700 mt.

"Indonesia [imported] smaller than expected [volume] given that Argentina and Black Sea exports are empty or low," a trader in Singapore said.