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China offers tariff-free quota for 10 million T of U.S. soybean purchases: sources

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10/22/2019 | 06:41pm EST
Soybean field is seen in Coatsville Maryland

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Beijing on Tuesday offered major Chinese and international soybean processors waivers that would exempt the companies from steep tariffs on imports of up to 10 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, according to two people briefed on the matter

The waivers, however, failed to unleash a flood of immediate buying on Tuesday as U.S. prices remained too high, according to U.S. export traders. Market conditions have continued to determine Chinese buying in recent weeks despite U.S. President Donald Trump's assurances of a wave of imminent sales.

The quota to import U.S. soybeans was offered to state-owned crushers, privately owned crushers and major international trading houses with crushing plants in China at a meeting called by the state planner, said the sources, who were briefed by people that attended.

The waivers were for U.S. shipments through March, two U.S. export sources said.

No one at China's state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, answered the phone after business hours.

Bids for U.S. soybeans shipped to China were about 15 cents a bushel below exporter offers on Tuesday afternoon, one U.S. broker said, a wide spread indicating that sales were not imminent.

"Prices are a bit too high to move at the moment," the broker said.

Still, exporters were scrambling for soybeans delivered to Gulf Coast shipping terminals later this year in anticipation of upcoming purchases, with bids for November and December arrivals up 4 to 6 cents a bushel, traders said.

Tuesday's state planner meeting comes after Trump said China had agreed to buy up to $50 billion of U.S. farm products annually during trade talks earlier this month.

In the week following the talks, however, China bought at least eight cargoes, or 480,000 tonnes worth $173 million, of Brazilian soybeans and steered clear of the U.S. market, traders told Reuters.

"Chinese buyers have been buying a lot of Brazilian soybeans. The government was sending a message to importers to be mindful of the big picture," said one of the sources briefed on the matter, referring to Beijing's desire to show goodwill in the talks.

The Chicago Board of Trade's most-active soybean contract rose to within 1/4 cent of its trade war high of $9.45-1/2 a bushel on hopes for large Chinese purchases, but settled just 3/4 cent higher at $9.34 a bushel as a rush of sales failed to materialize.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton in Beijing, Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by David Evans and Matthew Lewis)

By Hallie Gu and Naveen Thukral

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