China was a leading producer of soybeans before. In the early 1990s, the highest export volume exceeded 1 million tons in China as a net exporter of soybeans. However, soybean becomes a kind of agricultural product with the largest import volume in China.
The domestic output volume of soybeans started to decline from 1996. The import volume of soybeans increased while the export volume declined from 1995 to 2002. It was 13.94 million tons in 2002 which was close to the domestic output volume of soybeans and reached 20.74 million tons in 2003, first exceeding the domestic output volume. Meanwhile, it was up to 81.69 million tons in 2015.
As a world leading soybean importer, the import volume of soybeans in China accounted for over 60% of the global soybean trade. However, Chinese enterprises have no international pricing rights but to accept prices set by CBOT. Transnational grain trade giants occupy the pricing rights of the soybean market so Chinese importers are regulated by the market in the procurement and import of soybeans. Particularly, those large-scale crushing enterprises dependent on the import of soybeans suffer huge loss in the import of soybeans.
From 2004, soybean processing enterprises experienced comprehensive loss in China while international grain businesses entered China and occupied over half of the market shares with this opportunity, which was followed by the transfer from trade businesses to processing enterprises. The procurement of soybeans was at high costs in 2004 while the soybean price declined sharply from then on, leading to the closing down of numerous Chinese importers.
In the processing of soybeans, major evaluation indexes include the self-support degree and domestic prices of soybeans. The self-support degree of soybeans was less than 40% and it presented a trend of decline. The price of soybeans experienced a sharp fluctuation especially due to the imported soybeans.