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China soy buyers ask exporters to guarantee coronavirus-free cargoes
[BEIJING] China's soybean buyers are asking exporters to sign a letter guaranteeing that their cargoes are not contaminated with the coronavirus, said an official with the United States Soybean Export Council.
The move comes as China tries to prevent any risk of new Covid-19 infections from imported goods as it takes aggressive measures to contain a recent spike in coronavirus infections linked to a sprawling wholesale food market in Beijing.
Last week the General Administration of Customs asked overseas suppliers of meat and fruit to sign declarations ensuring the safety of their shipments to China.
Efforts to ensure soybean cargoes are free from the coronavirus are coming from local customs authorities however, not Beijing, said Zhang Xiaoping, China director of the USSEC.
The local offices have asked Chinese importers to guarantee shipments are safe and importers have been seeking such commitments from soybean exporters in recent days, he said.
China is the world's top soybean buyer and is expected to import about 94 million tonnes in the 2019/20 crop year, mostly from Brazil and the United States. Imported soybeans are crushed to produce soymeal to feed livestock.
It is not clear how many exporters have signed such letters, said Mr Zhang.
A China-based trader with an international firm said the company had received numerous letters from Chinese crushers seeking such promises of coronavirus-free cargoes.
The trading firm had not yet signed any letters as it is seeking guidance from its home country's authorities, he said.
Most international authorities say there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted from food to people.