CHICAGO (Reuters) - Taiwan has committed $2.2 billion to purchase Illinois soybeans, corn and corn products over the next two years, Governor JB Pritzker said on Tuesday, as U.S. farmers struggle to find new markets because of the U.S.-China trade war.
A statement from Pritzker’s office said the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Taiwan Feed Industry Association signed a letter of intent for Taiwan to buy 5 million tonnes of corn and 0.5 million tonnes of corn products.
Taiwan also pledged to buy between 2.5 million and 2.9 million metric tonnes of soybeans between 2020 and 2021 in a letter of intent signed by the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association and the Illinois Soybean Association, the statement said.
Illinois is the largest U.S. soybean producing state and second-largest corn producing state. Taiwan is the No. 6 buyer of U.S. corn and No. 9 buyer of soybeans, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Some traders expressed skepticism at the deals, noting buyers generally do not make commitments with individual U.S. states and there was no legal language in the letter of intent that ensures the purchases will be made.
“There’s no guarantee, but they always have fulfilled what they’ve said they would do,” said Roger Sy, chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, who attended the signing in Chicago on Tuesday morning.
“So far, they’ve been a very reliable customer.”
A year ago Taiwanese trade officials signed a similar letter of intent to buy as much as 3.9 million metric tonnes of soybeans from farmers in Minnesota and Iowa.
Reporting by Karl Plume and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Dan Grebler