Brazil’s corn exports poised on outcome of Trump-Xi soy showdown

15.11.2018

Brazil’s corn export programme is largely suspended as market participants try and gauge the impact of the upcoming meeting between China President Xi and US President Trump in Buenos Aires later this month, sources have told Agricensus Wednesday.

The meeting is seen as key in determining the outlook for Brazil’s soybean exports and, by extension, the fate of corn, which can compete with soybeans for space at export terminals.

“Corn exports are nothing right now; the supply is there, but they’re waiting to see what the outcome of the meeting is,” one market source said, with cash indications for December and January loading cargoes out of Santos drying up in recent days.

Logistics are the key – while some terminals are geared towards soybean or corn exports exclusively, some are able to swing between the two.

But with soybeans so dominant in recent months, any change to corn could take up to 15 days to implement, with logistics unlikely to make the shift ahead of the key US-China meeting.

“Corn exports are on hold because demand is still not that strong, while soybean demand is very strong,” Agrural’s Daniele Siqueira told Agricensus.

“Most ports normally don’t have problems switching from soybeans to corn and vice versa… but some don’t have storage capacity to work with corn and soybeans at the same time,” Siqueira said.

Brazilian corn exports so far this year are down 27% to 15.9 million mt, while soybean exports are up 17% to 74.6 million mt, customs data shows.

Timing

The timing of the meeting means that Brazil’s exporters risk missing out on returning demand, as Asian nations have started to show signs of buying after a protracted period of poor demand, meaning big rivals such as the US are poised to capitalise.

“The Pacific Northwest and Brazil are both competitive into Japan, plus we’re still seeing some spot demand for Middle East and North Africa, and Asian destinations such as Vietnam and Bangladesh still need to cover some positions,” a third market source said.

With China still looking to buy up to 5 million mt of soybeans through December and January, according to market sources, and potentially some 2 million mt of Brazilian soybeans still able to be exported, any détente between China and the US could tip logistics towards corn exports.

But any failure to agree could see the dearth of cash indications for Brazil’s big FOB export hub – Santos – continue.

Presidents Trump and Xi are due to meet to discuss the trade war at the G20 gathering in Buenos Aires on November 29.

 

agricensus

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