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Indonesia No.1 US soy customer


Indonesia looks like becoming the United States' largest soymeal customer in 2001 as credit guarantees and supply problems from other origins boost U.S. sales, American Soybean Association (ASA) officials said yesterday according to a Reuters report. The United States' surge in market share in Indonesia - despite relatively high prices -comes at the cost of supplies from South America which were banned by Jakarta earlier this year due to foot-and-mouth fears and India following a sharp rise in their export prices, they added. "The Indonesian soymeal market has exploded this year," said Gil Griffis, ASA's Asia Division Director, International Marketing, during a Southeast Asia Soy Buyers Conference. "The GSM program is contributing to that." Asian oilseed trade officials say Indonesia's meal imports are likely to rise to about 1.2 million tons in 2001 up from 900,000 tons in 2000. The United States, which boosted its market share in Indonesia to 250,000 tons in 2000 from just 10,000 tons the year before, expects more growth in 2001. "In addition to GSM, even the ban on South American shipments is a major factor for our sharp anticipated growth in soymeal sales to Indonesia," said John Lindblom, ASA's regional director for Southeast Asia. "U.S's share might rise to about 700,000 tons this year." U.S. farm export credit guarantees - known as the GSM program - underwrite credit from private U.S. banks to approved foreign banks to finance U.S. agricultural sales. The U.S.' share to its largest customer in 2000, the Philippines, is expected to fall to less than 70 per cent in 2001 from nearly 90 per cent as importers step up purchases of relatively low-priced South American and Indian meal, traders and ASA officials said. "The Philippines will probably be our second-largest customer by the end of this calendar year and Indonesia will probably turn out to be the largest," Lindblom said. The Philippines imported about one million tons of soymeal in 2000. The success of the U.S.' GSM program in Indonesia has encouraged talk of starting a similar program in Vietnam, where exporters see a good long-term potential for U.S. soy products.

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