Talks may help US soy exports
Updated: 2014-07-07 11:14
By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)
Amid strong trading, S&ED may boost volume to China even further
Soybean trade between the United States and China is rising and an upcoming meeting between the two nations is an opportunity to spur further growth, according to an official with the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA).
The upcoming sixth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), which will run in Beijing from July 9-10, will provide officials an opportunity to address matters of bilateral concern. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will be in China later this week as President Barack Obama's special representatives to the S&ED. State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice-Premier Wang Yang are set to join their US counterparts at the two-day event.
Mike Levin, director of issues, management and analysis for the ISA, said demand from China for US soybeans is a blessing for the industry. Illinois was the country's largest soybean producer in 2013.
"First and foremost, the true importance of the Chinese market to US and Illinois soybeans can't be understated," Levin said on July 3 in an interview with China Daily. "One in every four rows of soybeans that you see in Illinois goes to China, and we are able to produce the amount and volume that China needs to feed their growing population."
"China is our No 1 market and we will always look to that market as a true priority in talking, discussing and debating the issues of expanded export and trade," he said.
However, biotechnological advances in the global production of soybeans have been a source of uncertainty during recent trade talks with China, according to Mark Ash, an agricultural economist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). To meet the increased demand for soybeans, growers are turning to genetically modified soybeans.
Ash said in an interview with China Daily in April that though he did not see a "breakthrough in China's stance" from a single round of discussions, a continuing dialogue "can gradually inform and correct misunderstandings".
USDA data show that the US is the world's largest exporter of soybeans. Other significant players in the world trade of soybeans are Brazil, Argentina and China.
China, the main destination for US-produced soybeans, imported more than $13 billion worth of soybeans from the US last year. That total made soybeans one of the largest commodities the US exported to China in terms of dollar value last year, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
China is the largest international market for US food and agricultural products, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all US farm exports. US agriculture exports to China reached a record $26.7 billion in fiscal 2013.
China is also the third largest export market for Illinois, with the value of exports totaling $6.4 billion in 2013, according to data from the US-China Business Council.
The ISA's Levin said that producers "know the growth prospects for soybeans in China are excellent".
Levin said continued discussions about the agricultural relationship between the world's two largest economies helps maintain the US presence as a main trading partner of China.
"The Chinese will need good, quality beans that have a high protein level to feed their livestock, which of course the US and Illinois can offer," Levin said.
American soybean farmers are enjoying a year of record plantings, according to the USDA, with upwards of 84 million acres of soybeans planted in 2014 representing an increase of 11 percent from 2013.
Due in part to less acreage devoted to corn production, other states are set to realize all-time highs in soybean production, including Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
(China Daily USA 07/07/2014 page2)