The decrease of China’s soybean imports in recent months shows that given the trade tension with the US, China is trying to reduce its dependency on foreign markets through improving its agricultural productivity level, a Chinese expert said.
China’s imports of soybeans decreased 3.8 percent year-on-year to 26.49 million tons from January to April, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Tuesday. In April, soybean imports came to 4.92 million tons, down 13 percent month-on-month, said the GAC.
China National Grain & Oil Information Center also forecast that China’s soybean imports in 2018 are likely to drop for the first time in 14 years, media reports said Tuesday.
The planting area for soybeans in China will rise by 8.8 percent year-on-year in 2018 and output is forecast to reach 158 million tons during the same period, up 8.6 percent on a yearly basis, the center noted.
“China largely depends on importing soybeans and as the nation’s soybean imports decline, farmers in the US, which is one of the main soybean exporters to China, will be significantly affected,” Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
China’s soybean imports from the US reached 32.85 million tons in 2017 and the amount was close to the surplus amount of China’s total soybean imports in the year, Ma said, adding that if China cuts soybean imports from the US by the same amount, Chinese consumers’ demand can still be provided for.
The current trade tension between China and the US requires China to improve its agricultural productivity and reduce its economic reliance on the world market, according to Ma.
China instructed two provinces in Northeast China – Heilongjiang and Jilin – to expand their soybean cultivation area, media reports said on Thursday. Heilongjiang plans to increase soybean planting by 5 million mu (333,333 hectares) in 2018, finance.sina.com.cn reported.
Customs data also showed on Tuesday that China’s goods trade stood at 9.11 trillion yuan ($1.43 trillion) in the first four months, up 8.9 percent year-on-year.
China’s goods exports were up 6.4 percent year-on-year to 4.81 trillion yuan from January to April while imports grew 11.7 percent to 4.3 billion yuan during the same period, according to the GAC.