China loosens soybean import regulation for non-US countries amid trade talks

3 Jan 2020 | Johnny Huang

The Chinese government has loosened regulations for soybean imports through customs on its northern border at the start of this year amid ongoing trade talks with the US, as the world’s largest soybean importing country seeks to diversify sources of import.

Import licences for soybean shipments at six different checkpoints in three northern Chinese provinces and regions – Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang – can now be used to clear up to six cargoes upon applications.

Previously, licences had to be applied for for each cargo, according to an announcement from China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The new policy came into effect on January 1, 2020.

This can potentially boost soybean imports from Russia and Kazakhstan, from which China imported nearly 1 million mt and 15,000 mt respectively in 2018, accounting for only small parts of the country’s massive annual import of around 90 million mt.

The policy comes against the backdrop of a thaw in relations between China and the US, who are set to sign the Phase-one trade deal in the middle of this month.

The US is the second largest supplier of soybeans to China following Brazil, but has seen its export volume to China shrinking more than a third in 2018 due to the trade war.