According to information released by the European Commission, in the market year from July to December 2018, European imports of U.S. soybeans increased by 112% at 5,181,833 tonnes from the same period in the previous year.
The U.S. remains Europe’s largest soybean supplier, accounting for 75% of EU imports, compared to 39% in the same period last year. In contrast, Europe remains the preferred destination for U.S. soybean exports (28%), followed by Argentina (10%) and Mexico (9%).
The main reason for the strong growth of U.S. exports is the trade war between China and the United States. In response to U.S. unilateral import tariffs on Chinese products, China imposed tariffs on U.S. soybean imports. At present, China has met the demand of about 90 million tonnes mainly from South America. This has depressed the price of U.S. soybeans, making it more attractive to other importing countries such as the European Union.
In part of the implementation of the joint statement reached by EU President Juncker and U.S. President Trump in July 2018, the two sides agreed to increase trade in several fields and products, especially soybeans. Therefore, the European Commission now regularly publishes EU import data.
These latest major developments in the second half of 2018 will help to consolidate the U.S.’s leading position in supplying soybeans to the EU throughout the entire calendar year, far ahead of Brazil, the main traditional soybean supplier in Europe. For the whole calendar year of 2018, 50% of imports from Europe come from the U.S. and 36% from Brazil (37% in 2017).
The EU imports about 14 million tonnes of soybeans a year as a source of protein for feeding animals, including chicken, pigs and cattle, as well as milk production. U.S. soybean prices are competitive, and the soybeans are also an ideal feed choice for European importers and users.
In December 2018, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the decision to authorize the use of U.S. soybeans to produce biofuels in Europe. And after the decision, Europe’s imports of US soybeans are bound to increase further.
According to the Commission’s assessment, the “U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol” submitted by the U.S. soybean exporters is in line with the mandatory sustainable development requirements of EU legislation for the use of soybeans in biofuels.