Trade and markets


China (Mainland)
Commodity Group
Oilseeds, oils and meals
Policy Category
Policy Instrument
Trade standard
Lowered the level of impurities allowed in US soybean cargoes amid concerns over the presence of weed seeds in past consignments.
Concerned about the presence of weed seeds in past consignments of soybeans from the United States, Chinese authorities decided to lower – as of 1 January 2018 – the level of impurities allowed in U.S. soybean cargoes to 1 percent. In the United Sates, quality specifications for No. 2 yellow soybeans – the variety dominating U.S. shipments – allow for up to 2 percent of foreign material. China’s inspection and quarantine services informed they would not guarantee speedy handling of cargoes containing more than 1 percent of foreign matter, adding that consignments with higher impurity levels could be subject to additional inspections, cleaning and related measures intended to mitigate pest risk. In recent years, US farmers have been confronted with new herbicide-resistant weeds, traces of which may indeed appear in harvested beans. According to industry sources, about half of US soybeans shipped to China last year would not meet China’s more stringent standard. Experts estimated that reducing the content of foreign matter to 1 percent could raise the costs of shipping soybeans to China by 15 US cents per bushel (USD 4 per tonne). To prevent disruptions in export flows, USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service intends to examine all soybean dispatches destined to China, holding back consignments that fail to meet the stricter standard. Furthermore, USDA will commission work on production and harvesting methods that allow reducing weed seed contamination in soybean deliveries.