China-bound US Sorghum Diverted to Saudi Arabia, Japan

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 24, 2018

© Eldad Carin / Adobe Stock

© Eldad Carin / Adobe Stock

Four U.S. sorghum shipments initially bound for China have been diverted to other countries after Beijing's move last week to impose hefty anti-dumping deposits on imports of the grain from the United States, according to trade sources and Reuters shipping data.

Three of the cargoes are now sailing for Saudi Arabia after being sold to a private buyer, a U.S. trader and a Middle East-based trading source with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday. A fourth ship is heading to Japan, according to Reuters shipping data.

The ships were the first of the more than 20 China-bound vessels that have been rerouted to other destinations since the 178.6 percent anti-dumping deposits were announced on April 17.

Sorghum is just a small slice of the billions of dollars in exports at stake in an escalating trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

Thomson Reuters Eikon ship-tracking data showed a vessel carrying 69,842 tonnes of sorghum switch destinations to Dammam, Saudi Arabia, from China earlier in the day.

The three cargoes were sold to Saudi Arabia at a price of $190 a tonne delivered, trade sources said.

"That's a pretty nice discount. It would have otherwise been about $208 a tonne landed in the kingdom," said a U.S. export trader who asked not to be named.

The BTG EIGER departed with sorghum from Archer Daniels Midland Co's Corpus Christi elevator in Texas on March 3, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Federal Grains Inspection Service.

Another vessel, the Ocean Pride, loaded with 58,593 tonnes of sorghum at ADM's Galveston, Texas, grain elevator in early March switched destinations to Kashima, Japan, from Shanghai, Reuters shipping data showed.

Several ships carrying U.S. sorghum to China have changed course since last week, trade sources and a Reuters analysis of export and shipping data showed.

There currently are 21 waterborne vessels carrying U.S. sorghum that were loaded for China, the USDA data showed.

Some Chinese importers have asked Beijing to waive the deposit on vessels already at sea as they add crippling costs to their businesses.

Saudi Arabia is not a big sorghum importer, but it is the world's 10th-largest buyer of corn. Some of the sorghum is expected to replace corn in animal feed rations.

Japan is the second-largest market for U.S. sorghum, well behind top importer China which normally buys about 90 percent of all sorghum exported from the United States.

(Reporting by Maha El Dahan and Karl Plume; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral; editing by Dale Hudson and Tom Brown)

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