Brazil sends first-ever corn shipment to China – is U.S. losing its commodity trade dominance?
01/05/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

Right now, more than 20 bulk carriers loaded with corn from the United States are en route to China, which continues to rely heavily and almost exclusively on our own Midwestern states for the crop. The first-ever carrier filled with Brazilian corn, however, also just arrived in Singapore for transfer into China – this potentially indicating a shift in global trade flows.

Never before has Brazilian corn been purchased by China, despite being the world's second-largest corn exporter. The U.S. is still the global leader in corn exports, but some speculate that this might not be the case in the coming years as expanding Asian economies increasingly rely on South America for food commodities.

The Star Isis, as the bulk carrier from Brazil is called, just delivered 68,000 metric tons of grain for Chinese trader Cofco Corp. China's decision to purchase this grain from Brazil instead of the U.S. is part of China's efforts to "reduce dependence on the U.S. and replace supplies from Ukraine cut off by the Russian invasion," according to Bloomberg.

Invigorated Chinese interest in Brazilian corn could result in an even larger surge next year, according to Brazil's National Association of Grain Exporters. This is bad news for the U.S., which is already struggling to keep its trade flows in a healthy state amid buckling supply chains and other lingering problems. (Related: In 2017, Brazil threatened to refuse all crop imports from the U.S. due to their being contaminated with genetically modified organisms [GMOs].)

Dwindling U.S. trade dominance is a self-inflicted wound

We are told that it would still take a while for Brazil to substantially threaten U.S. dominance of the Chinese agriculture market, even if more corn shipments occur in 2023. The direction things are going, though, points to a shift in which countries dominate world trade in the coming years.


For years, Brazil has been a soybean production powerhouse, holding dominance in that particular commodity. Now, however, it is setting its sights on corn.

"Brazil has incredible ag production capacity," said Collin Watters, director of exports and logistics for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Corn Growers Association. "We'll need to be paying attention to it. It's something that's certainly on our radar."

Back in October, Brazil was entering the final stage of planting its first of three corn crops for the calendar year. The second crop, called "safrinha," will take place this month in January.

"The highest estimate by Brazil's National Supply Co., which goes by the Portuguese acronym of CONAB, for all planting for 2022-23 is 55 million acres," reported AgriPulse. "That's a 4% increase from 2021, and total production is expected to reach about 5 billion bushels – a 10% increase."

"The increase is even more impressive when put in context. Brazilian farmers produced about 3.2 billion bushels of corn a decade ago for the 2013-14 marketing year, meaning the country increased production by 63% over the past 10 years."

In the comments, someone pointed out that when the U.S. "stole Russia's money, it killed the dollar," providing further insight into the agriculture shift we are not witnessing take place.

"China and Brazil can trade in the BRIC currency and bypass the dollar risk," this person added.

Another wrote that the U.S. is not part of BRICS, the SCO, the EAEU, the ASEAN, or Belt and Road, so "just what does the U.S. think is going to happen?"

"We are entering a five-year-long Starvation Event due to fertilizer shortages," responded another, offering up an ominous look at the future. "The USA will have all the customers they want."

More related news coverage about withering U.S. dominance in world affairs can be found at

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