SALZBURG, Austria (Reuters) – The United States has supplanted Brazil as the European Union’s top supplier of soybeans since a deal in July with President Donald Trump to avert a trade war, according to EU data seen by Reuters on Thursday.
In the 12 weeks to mid-September, U.S. soybeans accounted for 52 percent of imports to the EU, rising 133 percent compared with the same period last year to 1.47 million tonnes. The United States had just 25 percent of the market in the same period of 2017.
Imports from Brazil dropped to a 40-percent share of the bloc’s roughly 35 million tonne annual import market for the animal feed staple.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged in a White House deal in late July that Europeans would buy more U.S. soy as part of a package to avert threatened tariffs from Washington on U.S. imports of EU cars.
The EU executive has been collating frequent new import data to prove it is keeping its side of the bargain – even though the trends are largely the result of price movements in world markets. The EU had no previous barriers to U.S. soybeans.
In June, China largely stopped buying U.S. soybeans in retaliation for trade measures Trump targeted at Beijing — prompting European farmers to switch to buying cheaper U.S. soy.
U.S. and EU negotiators have begun discussions on how to free up some trade in what Washington wants to be a bigger deal that would cut the U.S. deficit in merchandise trade.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Alison Williams)