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The Nikkei View

Global food markets need buffer against China's gyrations

Coronavirus, trade war and swine fever show vulnerability of key commodities

Medical workers attend to coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Wuhan, China.   © Kyodo

The coronavirus outbreak and the ups and downs of the Sino-American trade war have underscored China's outsize impact on global food prices, along with the need for import-reliant countries like Japan to shield themselves from these swings.

The impact of Chinese demand fluctuations is especially obvious in soybeans. China's recent move to slash tariffs on U.S. imports, including soybeans, sparked hope among Chicago commodities investors that American soy exports would pick up. Trade tensions had destabilized the crop's price in international markets last year, at one point sending it to a 10-year low.

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