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India Allows GE Soybean Meal Imports in Response to Soaring Domestic Meal Prices

14.09.2021 15:25 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) Soaring exports of Indias genetically engineered (GE)-free soybean meal, rising on strong demand from the United States and Europe, have created a perfect storm for Indias livestock producers. Indias total soybean meal exports in MY 2020/21 reached 1.9 million tons through May, more than double last years total. This dramatic increase has tightened supplies and boosted prices, negatively impacting feed margins.

Domestic soybean meal prices diverged from global levels in early 2021 as supplies tightened and as exports continued. Prices at the end of August stood near $1,200/ton, roughly three-fold over average global prices. Indias poultry, egg, dairy, and aquaculture producers, who depend on domestic soybean meal for feed, pressured the Indian government to take historic action. On August 24, the Indian

government relaxed its import policy through October 31 to allow up to 1.2 million tons of soybean meal only through Nhava Sheva port on the west coast and the Petrapole border crossing on the Bangladeshi order. On September 3, India announced these shipments could also arrive via three additional seaports — Mumbai, Tuticorin, and Visakhapatnam.

Indias move to allow GE soybean meal imports stands to benefit livestock and aquaculture producers.

However, the government action has been criticized by activists questioning its legality and environmental safety. Others argue the governments action is too late, as Indias soybean harvest will start arriving in October, helping to soften domestic soybean meal prices.

Indias initial announcement allowing imports of GE soybean meal through October 31 (7 weeks from now), via only two ports — one land and one ocean port primarily for containers — appeared to limit bulk shipments from the United States and South America. Initially, this would have constricted the volume of meal that can enter. However, the opening of three additional seaports widens the opportunity for bulk shipments and introduces the possibility to divert shipments in transit to other Asian markets to meet the deadline. Given this, there is a better chance of reaching the 1.2-million-ton limit through direct or diverted bulk shipments from the United States and South America, though the longer sailing time means the window is still short.

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