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China's March Soybean Imports Surge After Delayed Cargoes Clear Customs

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China's soybean imports almost doubled in March from levels in the same month a year earlier, data from customs showed on Tuesday, as cargoes of beans from top exporter Brazil cleared customs after delays.

China, the world's top soybean buyer, brought in 7.77 million tonnes of the oilseed in March, up 82% from a year ago, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

"Soybean arrivals in Jan-Feb were lower than market expectation due to cargo delay. Some shipments delayed earlier later cleared customs," said Xie Huilan, analyst with agriculture consultancy Cofeed, speaking after the data release.

"More than 5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans were loaded in Jan. for shipment to China, some of which arrived in March," Xie said.

Rains in top exporter Brazil have delayed harvest and shipments of the oilseed this year, but cargoes delayed earlier have slowly started to arrive.

China's soybean imports in the first three months of the year came in at 21.18 million tonnes, up 19% from 17.79 million tonnes in the previous year, according to customs data.

China customs also reported corn and wheat imports in the first quarter, which soared due to elevated domestic corn prices, but did not break out monthly figures for March, usually published in the later half of each month.

China brought in 6.727 million tonnes of corn from Jan-March, up 437.8% from the previous year. Wheat imports in the first quarter rose 131.2% from a year ago, to 2.925 million tonnes.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Shivani Singh; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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