Marine Link
Monday, August 20, 2018

Vessels Carrying U.S. Sorghum to China Switch Destinations

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 10, 2018

Ocean Belt (© M.A.B. / MarineTraffic.com)

Ocean Belt (© M.A.B. / MarineTraffic.com)

Three ships carrying livestock feed grain, sorghum, from the U.S. to China switched their destinations on Thursday to Japan and South Korea, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon ship tracking data, after Beijing hit imports with hefty anti-dumping deposits.

The cargoes are among roughly two dozen bought by China but left stranded after Beijing announced last month it would hit U.S. imports with a 178.6 percent deposit on the value of sorghum shipments. The move was part of an anti-dumping probe by China as trade tensions with the U.S. escalate.

Sorghum is mainly used in livestock feed and the fiery Chinese liquor baijiu.

The 'Ocean Belt' carrying 58,000 tonnes of sorghum from the United States switched its destination from China to Kashima, Japan, according to the data.

It had loaded U.S. sorghum from trader Cargill's Houston grain elevator in Texas and departed on March 31 for Guangzhou in southern China, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

It stopped in the Pacific Ocean on April 18 and was "not under command" until switching its destination on Thursday to Japan. It is now underway and due to arrive in Japan on May 25, according to the data.

Another vessel, the Ocean Favour, which also loaded the grain at Cargill's Houston elevator, switched destinations from Nansha port in China to South Korea. A third vessel carrying sorghum, the Stamford Eagle, changed its destination from Qingdao to Japan earlier on Thursday.

Rita Aspen, regional communications director for Cargill in Asia, said the company could not confirm or divulge vessel destinations, contents or customer names for safety and competitive reasons.

She added that the company was "not the importer of record" for the cargoes and therefore did not bear any cost responsibility as a result of vessels being redirected.

With Chinese importers facing losses of millions of dollars if they bring the cargoes into China, exporters have been working to resell the grain to buyers elsewhere. However they are being forced to offer steep discounts.

Three cargoes have been resold to Saudi Arabia and several more are heading for Spain.

Reporting by Dominique Patto

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