Factbox: A lot of soy, a little rice – China’s historical U.S. agricultural purchases


CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. government said on Friday China would buy an additional $32 billion in U.S. farm goods over the next two years as part of an initial trade deal.

FILE PHOTO: Soybeans in a field on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, Indiana, U.S. November 8, 2019. Picture taken November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

China gave no firm commitment on an amount of U.S. goods, but said it may buy more wheat, rice and corn — goods it has not traditionally bought. Soybeans made up more than half of China’s agriculture purchases from the United States in 2017, at about $12.2 billion.

Below are agricultural goods China has bought from the United States in the past:


China bought about 60% of all exports of U.S. soybeans, the main U.S. export crop by value, before the trade war. Since the current marketing year started on Sept. 1, China has purchased about 10 million tonnes of soybeans worth some $3.5 billion, according to government data.


China began buying U.S. sorghum, which it uses for production of baiju liquor and animal feed, in 2008. Its purchases peaked at $2.115 billion in 2015, but fell by more than half to $1.030 billion in 2016. So far this year, it has bought $117.149 million worth.


China has increased pork imports after a fatal pig disease, African swine fever, devastated its herd. U.S. pork exports to China and Hong Kong were up 34% in value at $974.8 million from January to October. The shipments top full-year 2018 exports to the region of $852.5 million. Full-year exports to China and Hong Kong set a record of $1.1 billion in 2017.


China officially resumed U.S. beef imports in 2017 after a 14-year ban, but maintains restrictions on shipments. Exports of U.S. beef to China and Hong Kong from January to October were down 20% from a year earlier at $657.9 million. China and Hong Kong imported a record $1 billion in U.S. beef in 2018.


China was a top five buyer of U.S. corn from 2011 to 2013 but has not been a major buyer since as domestic production increased. In 2017, it bought $142.036 million worth, and so far in 2019 it has bought $52.857 million.


China, the world’s largest rice producer, typically buys small amounts of U.S. rice. Purchases peaked at $5.311 million in 2010. In 2017, they totaled $759,000. So far this year, U.S. rice exports to China have been worth just $147,000.


China in November lifted a nearly five-year ban on U.S. poultry that had been imposed in January 2015 because of a U.S. outbreak of avian flu. The market bought $500 million worth of American poultry products in 2013.


China is the world’s No. 2 wheat producer after the European Union and holds roughly half of all global wheat inventories. In recent years it has been the No. 3 or 4 buyer of U.S. hard red spring wheat, a high-protein variety used to blend and improve the quality of lesser grades of wheat.


Some analysts had speculated that equipment might be counted in an agriculture component of an eventual trade deal. Farm machinery exports this year through October were a little over $200 million, according to data from U.S. Census Bureau. Beijing’s biggest purchase in the past two decades was in 2015 when it imported about $430 million of machines.

Reporting by Tom Polansek, Julie Ingwersen, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Mark Weinraub; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Leslie Adler


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