China signs US agriculture purchase agreements in first ceremony in years

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A delegation of commodity importers from China signed agreements to buy billions of dollars’ worth of agricultural goods during a signing ceremony in Iowa on Monday, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) said on Tuesday.

The agreements signed at the China-U.S. Sustainable Agricultural Trade Forum were the first such bulk signings since 2017 between top soybean importer Beijing and the United States, the world’s second-largest supplier of the oilseed.

Top U.S. crop merchants Archer-Daniels-Midland, Bunge Ltd and Cargill were among the companies that signed 11 purchasing agreements, the U.S. Soybean Export Council said.

The deals were signed as “frame contracts,” which are typically non-binding letters of intent to buy at a later date, without formal sales terms.

China’s crop import purchases from the United States are well below normal this year as Brazil, the world’ largest exporter of corn and soy, harvested bumper crops.

As of Oct. 19, soybean purchases by China from the latest U.S. harvest were down 39% from the same time last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Its corn purchases were down 73% from a year prior.

(Reporting by Karl Plume and Tom Polansek; editing by Jonathan Oatis)