SAO PAULO — Brazil, the world’s largest soybean exporter, may have to import the oilseed from the United States this year to satisfy demand from local processors, an executive of exporters association Anec said on Thursday.
If China’s demand for Brazilian soy rises due to a trade war with the United States, local processors may have to resort to importing 500,000 to 1 million tonnes from the United States, Luis Barbieri told an event in Sao Paulo. China has announced 25 percent tariffs on a range of U.S. products scheduled to take effect from July 6.
“This is one of the most uncertain times in the recent history of the grain trade,” Barbieri said, referring to fallout from the trade spat.
Brazil, which is also one of the largest producers of soybeans in the world, is expected to export a record 73.5 million tonnes this year, according to forecasts by consultancy Agroconsult that it reiterated at Thursday’s event.
In June, the government predicted Brazilian 2018 soybean exports would total 72 million tonnes.
Agroconsult said it would keep its export forecast despite concerns related to freight costs in Brazil, which have risen since the government imposed minimum freight prices as one of the measures to stop an 11-day truckers’ strike that paralyzed Brazilian roads in May.
There have been years when imports were necessary to keep soy processors running during the inter-harvest period, said Fabio Meneghin, partner at Agroconsult, on the sidelines of the event.
“Bringing in soybeans from other countries is not unprecedented,” he said.
Agroconsult sees Brazilian soy production this season at 118.9 million tonnes. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and James Dalgleish)