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Brazilian ports operate normally amid coronavirus issues: port agency

Highlights

Brazil soybean exports double on month in first 3 weeks of March

Soybean prices up on talks of Brazilian port closures

New Delhi — Major Brazilian ports, including Santos and Paranagua, are operating normally as of Tuesday, amid the coronavirus pandemic and contagion concerns, according to shipping agency Wilson Sons.

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The supply of agricultural products from Brazilian ports is flowing as usual, market sources said. The exports of the country's primary agro commodities, including soybeans and beef, are on schedule so far.

Brazilian ports play a vital role in supplying soybeans and beef to Europe and Asia. According to trade department data, Brazil is the world's largest soybean exporter and second-largest commercial beef producer.

Brazil, shipped out 7.18 million mt of soybeans in the first three weeks of March, up 102% month on month, according to the Brazilian foreign trade department report released Tuesday. On average, Brazilians export 75 million mt of soybeans annually, with over 75% destined for China.

Other primary Brazilian agricultural exports are sugarcane, coffee, corn, poultry and tobacco, government data showed. The Brazilian economy depends heavily on agribusiness exports as the sector accounts for almost 50% of country's total exports annually.

It also ships out crude petroleum, iron ore and cars, while primarily imports refined petroleum, vehicle parts and integrated circuits.

According to the agency, top Brazilian ports supplying agricultural products, namely Santos, Paranagua, Rio Grande, Belem, Sao Francisco do Sul, Vitoria and Manaus are all operating normally.

However, the ports of Recife, Maceio and Salvador have restricted the docking of cruise ships as a precautionary measure, Wilson Sons said.

There are reports of local municipal bodies ordering the preventive shutting down of port operations. However, some Brazilian analysts believe the agricultural trade to continue, despite the quarantine measures adopted by local governments.

"The federal law is bigger than a municipal decree, and all the federal laws passed over the last few days say that agriculture and food industry are essential activities during the pandemic," Brazilian agro consultancy AgRural said.

However, market participants have adopted a bearish outlook towards South American port operations in coming days, over the severity of coronavirus.

The speculation of closure of Brazilian ports, combined with talks of bulk soy buying by China seem to have supported the CBOT soybean futures prices.

May soybeans closed at $ 8.84/bu, up 21.50 cents on the day, while July Soybeans closed at $ 8.85/bu, up 20.75 cents day on day, at Chicago Board of Trade on Tuesday.

According to S&P Global Platts, SOYBEX FOB Santos was assessed at $354.87/mt for May loading, up 7.6% week on week, while SOYBEX FOB New Orleans was determined at $354.12/mt, up 8.5% on the week, on Tuesday.

The pandemic has so far infected over 2,200 people in Brazil and killed 46.