BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s sorghum imports in June surged 38.1 percent on year, boosted by a temporary easing of Sino-U.S. trade tensions, while corn imports for the month rose to one of highest levels in the past decade, customs data showed on Monday.
China brought in 450,000 tonnes of sorghum in June, up from last year’s 324,301 tonnes. Volumes were still down slightly from 470,000 tonnes in May, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Beijing announced in mid-April that importers of sorghum from the United States would have to put up a 178.6 percent deposit on the value of shipments. Several cargoes already on the way changed course and were diverted to other markets.
A month later in a goodwill measure, however, China dropped the deposit and an anti-dumping probe into U.S. sorghum imports as the two sides appeared to be reaching consensus on resolving trade issues.
“Some cargoes were already on the way to China when Beijing dropped the deposit. Then they cleared customs in weeks after. That should have pushed up the June volumes,” said Cherry Zhang, an analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligent Co Ltd, before the data release.
Corn buyers, meanwhile, scooped up cargoes on worries over the return of U.S.-China trade policy tit-for-tat amid high domestic prices.
Corn imports in June hit 520,000 tonnes, up 34.6 percent from a year ago and the second highest since July last year. The figures were down from 760,000 tonnes in May, the data showed.
The corn imports in the first six months tripled to 2.21 million tonnes, already close to China’s total 2017 purchase of 2.82 million tonnes of the grain, according to the data.
“There were margins importing corn as domestic corn prices were relatively high. And buyers were buying more corn in recent couple of months to prepare for the Sino-U.S. trade tension in advance,” said Meng Jinhui, an analyst with Shengda Futures.
U.S.corn and sorghum shipments to China should drop significantly in July and August, analysts and traders said, as Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. grains on July 6.
China buys almost all its sorghum imports from the United States.
In the first half of this year, China has brought in 3.25 million tonnes of sorghum, up 8.7 percent from the same period of 2017, the data showed.
China also brought in 590,000 tonnes of barley in June, down 5.6 percent from a year ago. Barley imports for the first half of the year were at 4.4 million tonnes, down 2.7 percent.
Wheat imports were at 310,000 tonnes in June, down 33.6 percent from a year ago. Wheat imports for the first half were at 1.95 million tonnes, down 26.4 percent, the data showed.
China bought 280,000 tonnes of sugar and 98,566 tonnes of pork in June. In the first half of the year, China’s sugar imports were at 1.38 million tonnes, and shipments of pork were at 647,985 tonnes, both down from last year’s levels.
Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue