US soybean cargo docks in Chinese port after weeks at anchor amid trade dispute

BEIJING: 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 U.S. 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 U.S. soybeans on board, since it arrived off the coast on July 6 shortly after Beijing imposed 25 percent import duties on US$34 billion worth of U.S. goods, including soybeans.

Illustration photo of Peak Pegasus, a cargo ship carrying soybeans from the U.S. to the port in Dal

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 U.S. 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 U.S. soybeans, Star Jennifer and Cemtex Pioneer, have been anchored off China’s coast for the past few weeks.

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 U.S. farmers, key supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Soybeans, which are used to make cooking oil and animal feed, are the top U.S. 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 Aug. 23, as it tries to put pressure on China to negotiate trade concessions. Beijing has said it will retaliate in kind.

(GRAPHIC – On the move: U.S. soybean cargo enters Dalian port: https://reut.rs/2MhBgDD)

(GRAPHIC – Moored: Peak Pegasus docked in Dalian port – https://reut.rs/2vAv5Ry)

(Reporting by Josephine Mason; editing by Jonathan Oatis)