US soybean ship caught in trade war docks in Chinese port after sitting off coast for a month

It will be one of the first US shipments of the grain to incur the new penalties

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 11:20pm

A ship carrying soybeans from the United States docked in the port of Dalian on Saturday, more than a month after it arrived off China’s coast just hours after hefty tariffs were imposed on US goods, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon shipping data.

The short journey into the northern Chinese port was the first by Peak Pegasus, which has 70,000 tonnes of US soybeans on board, since it arrived off the coast on July 6 soon after Beijing imposed 25 per cent import duties on US$34 billion worth of US goods, including soybeans.

The penalties were in response to a similar move by Washington as part of a tit-for-tat trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

The ship was moored in the port area just after midnight on Sunday morning, according to the latest data.

The move into the dock suggests the cargo may be about to be unloaded, becoming one of the first US soybean shipments to incur the new penalties as the trade dispute deepens. China’s state grain stockpiler Sinograin is the buyer of the shipment, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Two other ships carrying US soybeans, Star Jennifer and Cemtex Pioneer, have been anchored off China’s coast for the past few weeks.

Soybean shipload worth more than US$20 million circles off China, victim of trade war with US

Star Jennifer, which has been sitting off Dalian since July 24, was moving on Sunday, according to shipping data. It was not immediately clear where it was heading.

The final stages of Peak Pegasus’ one-month journey to Dalian captured public attention in China as it became uncertain if it would arrive in time before the duties kicked in.

Last month, Chinese state media deployed the legume in a political cartoon aimed at undermining support for the trade dispute among American farmers – key supporters of US President Donald Trump.

China says US farmers may never regain market share lost in trade war

Soybeans, which are used to make cooking oil and animal feed, are the top US agricultural export to China, with the trade worth US$12.7 billion in 2017.

Last week, the Trump administration said it would start collecting tariffs on another US$16 billion worth of Chinese imports from August 23, as it tries to put pressure on China to negotiate trade concessions. Beijing has said it will retaliate in kind.