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BEIJING: China imported 7.35 million tonnes of soybeans in November, down 14% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Wednesday, confounding expectations for a significant rise, after slow clearing of cargoes at customs.

The small number came after arrivals in the world’s top buyer of soybeans plunged to just 4.1 million tonnes in October, their lowest level since 2014.

Several market participants had expected arrivals of more than 9 million tonnes last month.

“December should be higher,” said a Beijing-based soybean trader.

China’s strict COVID-19 curbs probably slowed customs clearance, said one analyst, who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of discussing government policy.

But it had also cut back on purchases earlier in the year after global prices soared and domestic needs contracted following heavy losses made by hog farmers.

CBOT soybeans may test resistance at $14.72-1/2

China buys soybeans to crush into soymeal for animals and oil for cooking.

After hog-raising profits recovered, buyers stepped up purchasing again but some cargoes were delayed by logistics issues in top supplier the United States.

Imports in the first 11 months of the year were down 8.1% at 80.53 million tonnes, the data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

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