American soybean exporters sold several cargoes to Chinese state-run buyers, according to people familiar with the matter, showing that some transactions are still going through even after officials in Beijing ordered a pause in some purchases.
Shippers sold as many as four cargoes of U.S. soybeans from the new crop, said the sources, who asked not to be named because the information is private. State-run stockpiler Sinograin was bidding earlier for Pacific Northwest cargoes.
Chinese government officials have told major state-run agricultural companies to halt imports of some American farm goods including soybeans, people familiar with the operations told Bloomberg News last week. U.S. cotton and corn imports by state buyers have also been paused, a person said.
Relations between the two countries have become more strained, with President Donald Trump blaming the Asian nation for misleading the world about the coronavirus pandemic, and more recently criticizing China for restrictions in Hong Kong.
China's ministry of commerce did not respond to a request for comment. Officials from Sinograin and Cofco also didn't respond.
There are some exceptions to the order that state-run buyers Cofco and Sinograin halt American soy purchases, one of the people said. One exception is when state-buyers import on behalf of private firms, who are not affected by the halt, the person said. Another is when the state-buyers need the beans to cover their derivative positions, and a third exception is if there are already ongoing transactions, the person said.
China, the top consumer of pork and soybeans, had been ramping up American farm imports last month. The coronavirus shutdown has slowed the pace of purchases China needs to meet its trade deal pledge for about $36.5 billion in U.S. agricultural imports in 2020.
State-run buyers purchased more than 20 cargoes, or over 1 million metric tons, of American soybeans in about two weeks in May. In April, China had imported a record 86,507 tons of U.S. pork, up almost 600% from a month earlier, customs data shows.