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Chinese soybean imports not impacted despite requests for virus-free cargoes


Imports from US continue for October, November

Details on virus-free requests still sketchy

Singapore — Soybean trading activity in China has not been affected by recent requests from the customs department to provide documents guaranteeing all imported cargoes are free of any coronavirus contamination, market sources said June 24.

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Chinese soybean importers are continuing to import cargoes from the US to cover demand for October and November, the sources added.

Chinese customs officials have been asking soybean exporters in the US and Brazil to provide documents guaranteeing their cargoes are free of virus contamination, according to media reports and market participants S&P Global Platts spoke to.

Details regarding these requests are still sketchy and could not be fully officially confirmed.

Soybeans traders were cooperating with Chinese importers to comply with the request from China authorities, the market sources said.

"Some grain traders have agreed to stop discharging immediately if they find the virus [in their cargoes] and they said they would cooperate with the local authorities regarding inspection and quarantine of the cargoes. [They] have also agreed to cover financial losses due to the delays," a local soybeans importer told Platts.

Not enough clarity

Major trading houses in China did not comment on this issue, saying they were waiting for more clarity.

"It [the customs request] is disputable and remains uncertain if the COVID-19 incurred delays and financial losses can fall under the force majeure clause," a China-based trader said.

"So far, no soybeans cargo exported to China has been inspected for the coronavirus," two crushers told Platts.

The requests for a virus-free guarantee on soybean cargoes follow stricter inspections imposed on frozen meat and fruits imports.

"We believe food safety controls on grain and food imports will escalate following the Beijing food market incidence," a trader in an international grains trading company said.

We are watching regulation changes closely, but in general, we think the risk of the virus being carried via soybean cargoes is much lower compared with other types of imported food, since imported soybeans are used for processing rather than direct consumption, crushers said.