Summary: Next week ’s soybean export inspections are expected to be 910,000 MT (33.4 Mil Bu). If this is correct, that would be down 7% from the previous week’s. This week’s ship lineup is 1,230,000 MT. That is up 126% from last week – – which was a season low. However, this week’s lineup is 40% smaller than a year ago. There were 16 vessels to-be-nominated (TBN). That is down from last week but is 3 times more than last year.
This week there is one vessel in the lineup that is scheduled to depart for China. As of Dec 13, China had 1,675,500 MT of outstanding sales and 341,500 MT of shipments. Since Dec 13, USDA has reported an additional 1,403,000 MT of “daily” sales to China. Another 257,000 MT of sales to unknown destinations is believed to have been sales to China. In its Dec WASDE, the USDA left their projection of China’s soybeans imports (from all sources) at 90 MMT. China’s own S&D projection for imports is 84 MMT. China’s imports last year were 94.13 MMT.
USDA is expected to adjust its projections for US soybean exports and China’s imports in the Jan WASDE (to be released Jan 11 if a threatened government shutdown doesn’t disrupt USDA operations). The key to possible changes in the US and China S&D’s is what assumptions USDA makes about the US soybeans that will be purchased by China. Will USDA assume that the recent purchases by Sinograin will be added to strategic reserves or will they be consumed by state-owned-enterprises? Another factor is what assumptions the USDA will make regarding the continued imposition of a 25% tariff on the import of US soybeans. It seems unlikely that USDA would sharply increase China’s soybean imports without the lifting of the tariffs. Lastly, it may be too late to pencil in our customary US exports to China. Brazil has already started to harvest 90-day soybeans and the S. American crops are projected to be record large, thus ensuring strong competition.
As of Dec 20, there were 1,230,000 MT identified in the US vessel lineup that were scheduled to load soybeans. That is up 126% from last week’s lineup – – which was a season low (see chart below). Also, there were 16 ships in the lineup for which there was no tonnage, destination, or commodity cargo noted. This is a large number of “un-assigned” vessels and nearly threefold what it was a year ago. The more vessels that are listed as “TBN”, the more difficult it is to accurately estimate the export lineup for soybeans.
The chart below plots the 2018/19 ship lineup vs the last two years.
The chart below plots the 2018/19 number of vessels TBN vs the last two years’. There were 16 vessels that were TBN this year. That is 4 less than last week but 11 more than a year ago.
We can document that 795,000 MT of soybeans were shipped last week. However, we cannot account for the cargo and destination for 3 vessels that were in last week’s lineup but not in this week’s. Therefore we have added another 115,000 MT to our estimate to bring the upper end of our estimate to 910,000 MT. We expect that “actual” inspections will be close to the upper end of the range, Therefore, we project next week’s inspections will be 910,000 MT.