Global grain trade experts this month didn’t expect a quick solution to the U.S.-China tariff war.
As reports circulated in mid-November about U.S.-China trade talks, members of the grain industry met at a Global Grain conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to examine world and regional trends.
“No one knows how long the U.S.-China trade dispute will last, but Brazil will expand production to satisfy all Chinese demand in two years,” Dan Basse, president of AgResource, Chicago, said in an interview with Global Grain.
When asked to identify the two most important global issues, Basse cited “trade disputes and world grain yields rising faster than demand.” For the next year, weather and the spread of African swine fever across China will be factors to watch, he said.
Stefan Vogel, head of ag commodities research at Rabobank, described to Global Grain the biggest change in the grain and oilseed industry in the past 24-36 months: “Political decisions that sometimes have nothing to do with agri, but agri falls victim of them, have become dramatically more important to grain and oilseed markets.”
President Donald Trump’s China relations — especially his Twitter diplomacy — have increased soybean prices in Brazil and Argentina and affected corn export seasonality there due to limits in elevation capacity, Vogel said. Trading is more difficult for market participants because of the “large risk that the next Tweet could announce that the Chinese duties on U.S. soybeans are removed again, which would change the pricing structure.”
If China keeps its import tariff on U.S. soybeans, more U.S. beans will continue to go to the European Union and other regions, said Martijn Sinke, general manager for agri-commodities in Northern Europe for Bureau Veritas. The company provides testing, inspection and certification systems to support trade.
In the past five years, he has seen “more demanding customers (for sustainability, quality), more transparency and all within a faster and digital environment.”