China is continuing to live up to its purchase promises under the “phase one” trade deal, buying up 567,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, according to new export sales announced Friday by the USDA. Most of it — 504,000 tons — is for delivery in the 2020-21 marketing year, while 63,000 tons are for delivery in the current 2019-20 marketing year.

On March 20, USDA reported a whopping 756,000 tons of U.S. corn sold to Chinese importers, as well as 340,000 tons of wheat.

Furthermore, industry sources say COFCO, a major state-owned Chinese company, contracted last week to buy about 250,000 tons of U.S. corn. Some of that purchase was reported by USDA, but was listed as being delivered to “unknown destinations.”

“China is buying corn again,” said Bryan Lohmar, China director for the U.S. Grains Council, in a statement released Thursday, reacting to the March 20 report. “We already see exports greater than the past few years, and China typically buys much of its corn over the summer when its own supplies get tighter and domestic prices firm up.”

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The recent sales come as China is exempting some importers from retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. ag commodities. China agreed in the “phase one” trade deal to honor commitments to buy corn, wheat and rice under tariff rate quotas that had been under-used for years. The yearly TRQ for corn is 7.2 million metric tons, but it does not have to be of U.S. origin.

China purchased just 309,474 tons of corn in the 2019 calendar year, according to USDA data.

“The Council and its members have worked for more than three decades to help partners in China develop their feed and livestock operations,” Lohmar said in the Thursday statement. “Demand for corn and sorghum in China will continue to grow in coming years — with the United States able to supply those needs as trade relations allow.”

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