US soybean producers made a desperate effort to hang on to global soybeans markets after China, which used to produce some 60 percent of US exports, virtually stopped its purchases amid its ongoing trade dispute with Washington.
The Sealady, a bulk carrier packed with some 56,951 tons of soybeans for Iran, embarked on its journey from the US West Coast last week, becoming the second vessel in a row to do so in a week’s time, Bloomberg has reported, citing US Department of Agriculture statistics and ship-tracking software data.
The vessel is the 13th soybean-laden vessel making a trip to Iran since July, with ten of the shipments coming from Mississippi plantations and another three from producers in the US Pacific Northwest. The US has shipped some 873,420 tons of the commodity to Iran since the intensification of President Trump’s trade war with China, which prompted Beijing to retaliate by virtually freezing its US soybean imports this summer.
The US is the world’s largest producer of soybeans. According to FAOSTAT figures, the country produced some 108 million metric tons of the legume in 2017, exporting 56.7 million tons of its stocks, with Brazil, Argentina, China and India also included among the world’s top five producers. Iran ranked ninth in the world in terms of soybeans imports in 2017, according to Statista figures. Earlier this month, a South China Morning Post report found that many US producers plan to switch to other crops following the drop in soybeans prices caused by China’s halt in imports.
Washington slapped Tehran with tough new sanctions on Monday targeting the Islamic Republic’s energy, banking and transportation sectors, including over 700 Iranian and Iran-linked individuals and entities, as well as Iranian-flagged ships, and aircraft belonging to Iran Air.
Iran remains defiant of the unilateral US sanctions pressure, vowing to continue cooperation with the other signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, which the US withdrew from in May, and to maintain its partnerships with its major trade partners. China and India, the largest importers of Iranian crude oil, have resisted US threats of secondary sanctions, prompting Washington to grant them and five other oil-importing states plus Taiwan sanctions exemptions.