China sorghum imports jump after Beijing dropped probe into US shipments: Customs

Imported items displayed at a store in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 23 July 2018
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China sorghum imports jump after Beijing dropped probe into US shipments: Customs

  • China brought in 450,000 tons of sorghum in June, up from last year’s 324,301 tons
  • Corn buyers, meanwhile, scooped up cargoes on worries over the return of US-China trade policy tit-for-tat amid high domestic prices

BEIJING: China’s sorghum imports in June surged 38.1 percent on year, boosted by a temporary easing of Sino-US trade tensions, while corn imports for the month rose to one of highest levels in the past decade, customs data showed on Monday.
China brought in 450,000 tons of sorghum in June, up from last year’s 324,301 tons. Volumes were still down slightly from 470,000 tons in May, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Beijing announced in mid-April that importers of sorghum from the United States would have to put up a 178.6 percent deposit on the value of shipments. Several cargoes already on the way changed course and were diverted to other markets.
A month later in a goodwill measure, however, China dropped the deposit and an anti-dumping probe into US sorghum imports as the two sides appeared to be reaching consensus on resolving trade issues.
“Some cargoes were already on the way to China when Beijing dropped the deposit. Then they cleared customs in weeks after. That should have pushed up the June volumes,” said Cherry Zhang, an analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligent Co. Ltd, before the data release.
Corn buyers, meanwhile, scooped up cargoes on worries over the return of US-China trade policy tit-for-tat amid high domestic prices.
Corn imports in June hit 520,000 tons, up 34.6 percent from a year ago and the second highest since July last year. The figures were down from 760,000 tons in May, the data showed.
The corn imports in the first six months tripled to 2.21 million tons, already close to China’s total 2017 purchase of 2.82 million tons of the grain, according to the data.
“There were margins importing corn as domestic corn prices were relatively high. And buyers were buying more corn in recent couple of months to prepare for the Sino-US trade tension in advance,” said Meng Jinhui, an analyst with Shengda Futures.
UScorn and sorghum shipments to China should drop significantly in July and August, analysts and traders said, as Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on US grains on July 6.
China buys almost all its sorghum imports from the United States.
In the first half of this year, China has brought in 3.25 million tons of sorghum, up 8.7 percent from the same period of 2017, the data showed.
China also brought in 590,000 tons of barley in June, down 5.6 percent from a year ago. Barley imports for the first half of the year were at 4.4 million tons, down 2.7 percent.
Wheat imports were at 310,000 tons in June, down 33.6 percent from a year ago. Wheat imports for the first half were at 1.95 million tons, down 26.4 percent, the data showed.
China bought 280,000 tons of sugar and 98,566 tons of pork in June. In the first half of the year, China’s sugar imports were at 1.38 million tons, and shipments of pork were at 647,985 tons, both down from last year’s levels.


Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

Updated 41 min 1 sec ago
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Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

AMSTERDAM/LONDON: Dutch health technology company Philips said on Thursday it planned to close its only factory in Britain in 2020, with the loss of around 400 jobs, the latest firm to move manufacturing jobs out of Britain.
The move is part of a push by Philips to reduce its large manufacturing sites worldwide to 30 from 50, and a spokesman said the decision had no direct link with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
However, the company said in a statement that it had to “pro-actively mitigate the potential impact of various ongoing geopolitical challenges, including uncertainties and possible obstructions that may affect its manufacturing operations.”
The factory in Glemsford, Suffolk, produces babycare products, mainly for export to other European countries. Almost all its activities will move to Philips’ plant in Drachten, the Netherlands, which already employs around 2,000 workers.
“We have announced the proposal after careful consideration, and over the next period, we will work closely with the impacted colleagues on next steps,” said Neil Mesher, CEO of Philips UK & Ireland.
“The UK is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in our commercial organization and innovation programs in the country.”
Once a sprawling conglomerate, Philips has transformed itself into a health technology specialist in recent years, shedding its consumer electronics and lighting divisions.
The firm has previously warned that Brexit would put Britain’s status as a manufacturing hub at risk.
Chief Executive Frans van Houten last year said that without a customs union — which has been ruled out by Prime Minister Theresa May — Philips would have to rethink its manufacturing footprint.
Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, and politicians are at an impasse over how to do so after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected May’s proposed withdrawal agreement on Tuesday.
Other firms have moved jobs out of Britain in recent weeks, sparking alarm among lawmakers that Brexit is impacting corporate decision-making.
Jaguar Land Rover has slashed UK jobs — mainly due to lower Chinese demand and a slump in European diesel sales — while Ford has said it will slash thousands of jobs as part of its turnaround plan.
While both decisions were driven by factors other than Brexit, each firm has also been vocal in warning of the risks of no-deal Brexit, where Britain leaves abruptly in March without a transition period.