US ships record volume of corn, soybeans to China in Q4

5 Feb 2021 | Rei Geyssens

The US shipped a record volume of corn and soybean during the final quarter of 2020, doubling the annual agriculture trade in US dollar terms between the world’s two largest economies, US Census data showed on Friday.

A record 3.91 million mt of corn left the US for China during the quarter to December, taking 2020’s total to 6.93 million mt – equivalent to the combined US corn exports to China between 2013-2019.

At the same time, 23.11 million mt of bean left the US bound for China during the final quarter of 2020, taking the total annual exports to 34.57 million mt.

While Q4 bean shipments were an all-time record, 2020 total exports fell short of the 2016 record of 36.05 million mt but were up from the 22.61 million mt exported in 2019.

December corn exports came in at 1.53 million mt, an all-time record for any month, while bean shipments for the month came in at 6.82 million mt, a record for December and slightly below the 7.8 million mt set the month before.

Q4 wheat exports also surged to a record high of 0.91 million mt, with the total 2020 figure at 2.25 million mt, its highest since the record of 4.28 million mt 2013.

The data means that the US shipped a record of $26.43 billion of agricultural goods during the calendar year of 2020, with over half, or $14.4 billion, shipped during the final quarter alone.

The 2020 trade figure trumps the previous record of $21.39 billion set in 2016 and is almost double the $13.86 billion exported in 2019.

While it beats the $20.83 billion exported in the baseline year of 2017 – as set out in the phase one trade deal – the 2020 trade fell short of the year-one target of $33.3 billion.