BEIJING, CHINA — Due to the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, Chinese soybean imports in 2018-19 are forecast to fall by 1 million tonnes, according to a Sept. 10 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA said China’s soybean imports will drop to 94 million tonnes and total oilseeds intake will be down slightly to 100.2 million tonnes.

However, the country’s demand for oilseeds will continue to rise, thanks mainly to the persistent growth in protein meal consumption in the livestock industry, which is transitioning toward a large-scale production model.

“Post forecasts 2018-19 total oilseed consumption will increase by about 2% to reach 159.8 million tonnes,” the USDA said. “Demand growth will continue to drive both China’s imports of oilseeds and government support to expand oilseed production.”

In contrast, the forecast growth in soybean meal equivalent feed use for 2018-19 will slow down in comparison to 2017-18, the USDA said, with a forecast growth of 3.04 million tonnes this marketing year versus an estimated growth of 4 million tonnes the year before.

China’s swine sector saw a drop in profits this spring, followed by the country’s first reported cases of African swine fever. The disease outbreak began in August in the heart of China’s pig production region.

“These factors, along with a likely decrease in the soybean meal inclusion rate in feed, due in part to China’s 25% additional tariff on U.S. soybean imports, will slow down total soybean meal equivalent feed growth,” the USDA said.

The USDA noted that the Chinese government is looking for ways to mitigate the effects of the trade friction with the United States by preparing for reduced soybean imports. China’s agricultural support policy has led to greater soybean acreage and an expected 5.6% production increase this year.

“However, the growth in domestic oilseed production is constrained by limited arable land and continues to lag behind demand growth,” the USDA said. “Soybean imports will continue to be the main source fulfilling the growing demand for protein meal.”