Illinois soybean growers may have received a lifeline for their market today. Taiwanese buyers signed letters of intent with Illinois crop marketers, according to a statement from Gov. J.B. Pritzker. There are two agreements for $1.1 billion apiece to buy corn and soy in 2020 and 2021. The deal is more than double Taiwan’s purchases in recent years. In 2018, the country bought just under $412 million worth of Illinois corn and soybeans.
The move is a direct cold shoulder to China, who considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province and has attempted politically and through trade to isolate the island nation since China’s Civil War ended in 1949. While the U.S. Doesn’t formally recognize Taiwan, it does sell the nation arms.
Taiwan says it will buy 5 million metric tons of corn and half a metric ton of ethanol byproduct. In the last marketing year—the 12-month cycle between harvests when a crop is sold—it bought just under 2 million metric tons of corn. For soybeans, it is upping its commitment from 1.7 million metric tons to somewhere between 2.6 million and 2.9 million metric tons.
Mexico and the Dominican Republic have also begun purchasing large numbers of Illinois soybeans in recent weeks as the United States continues its ongoing trade war with China. China had slowly begun backing off purchasing soybeans last year, but with the ongoing war as well as African Swine Fever killing Chinese hogs, the soybean market for Illinois in China wasn’t likely to have a major rebound.