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Argentina and Brazil may fill China’s soybean needs if China imposes a 25% tariff on U.S. soybean exports. Chad Hart, an agriculture economist at Iowa State University, says the impact depends on what happens during negotiations.

“It is so hard to say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ There are so many other moving parts,” he says. “This is a disagreement between the U.S. and China, but it has ramifications for Argentina and Brazil.”

Soybean Farming in India
Soybean Farming in India
 Earlier this month, the United States and China both announced taxes on billions of dollars worth of imported goods  China is seeking tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. products that include soybeans and pork, while the U.S. announced taxes on $150 billion worth of 1,300 Chinese products, including electronics.

Typically, Hart said, there’s enough outside trade and production that you can easily replace one market with another.

But with soybeans, “China is the world’s largest consumer, and the U.S. is the largest producer … so they’ll need to replace the U.S. with some other country,” he said.

Soybean Farming in India
Soybean Farming in India

Purdue University estimates that U.S. soybean exports to China could drop up to 71% if tariffs are put in place, according to a study released March 28. This means the country would still need about 29% of U.S. soybeans.

China is a top customer for both Argentina and Brazil.

Argentina exported $3.2 billion worth of soybeans in 2016, according to data from the World Bank. Brazil exported $19 billion worth of soybeans.


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