Global Markets: Oilseeds – Strong Brazilian Soybean Sales Expected to Slow Rebound in Argentine Exports

Brazil’s Oct/Sep soybean export forecast for 2018/19 is raised 4.0 million tons this month to 81.0 million and reflects a similar change in the current local year forecast. These changes come on the heels of record exports in both October and November. Combined exports for these 2 months totaled roughly 10.5 million tons, eclipsing by far the previous record of 4.5 million tons set in 2017.

And with total exports for the 12 months ending November approaching 82 million tons, this forecast assumes a somewhat slower pace of exports for the remainder of the Oct/Sep marketing year compared to last year.

Currently, nearly all of Brazil’s exports are destined for China. Facing stiff competition from Brazil, Argentine exporters will find it difficult to gain traction in the market until Brazil’s export pace slows in the latter half of 2019. This is even with a rebound in supplies resulting from an improved 2019 harvest. Accordingly, Argentina’s Oct/Sep export forecast is reduced 3.0 million tons to 5.0 million tons reflecting this slower pace of early-season trade. Local year exports are reduced 2.0 million to 8.0 million tons.

Historically, China has been the principle buyer of Argentine soybeans, accounting for more than 90 percent of annual trade. As long as China’s 25 percent duty remains in effect, it will be difficult for Argentina to expand sales into other markets without deeply discounting its soybeans against fierce U.S. competition. This will leave Argentine producers dependent on China for most sales.

China’s import forecast remains unchanged at 90.0 million tons. This is below last year with both years significantly below the historic pace of demand growth. Efforts by livestock interests to reduce the use of soybean meal in rations, weak crush margins in response to the tariff on U.S. soybeans, and any potential impact from African Swine Fever have all negatively impacted demand over the past 6 months.

Argentina’s export prospects will ultimately depend on the strength of China’s demand as well as any thaw in U.S./China trade relations that have so far kept U.S. soybeans out of the China market.

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