Major Players

The US is a major player in the world soybean market (Table 1). In 2024, the US is expected to be the second largest producer, consumer, and exporter of soybeans.

Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of soybeans in the world. China is the largest consumer and importer of soybeans in the world.

Graph of Major Players in World Soybean MarketTable 1. Major Players in the World Soybean Market

Relative Value of US Soybean Imports and Exports

To get a more detailed look at world corn trade the rest of this article will reference BACI data not USDA data. Therefore, the following tables will not be directly comparable to Table 1. BACI is an international trade dataset assembled by CEPII using the United Nation’s Comtrade data that is corrected for inconsistencies.  

Figure 1 shows US soybean imports and exports in terms of value, quantity, and average price. As mentioned earlier, the US is a top exporter of soybeans and imports almost none.

Graphs of US Soybean TradeFigure 1. US Soybean Trade

Major Trade Partners for US Soybean

Over the past 5 years, China has been the top buyer of US corn, making up over 40% of US soybean exports (Table 2). The trade war between the US and China was at its peak during 2018. If 2018 were not included in this set, this number would be even higher.

The US hardly imports any soybeans. When it does, the sources vary. Canada and Argentina have been the largest suppliers from 2018-2022.

Major US Soybean Trade PartnersTable 2. Major US Soybean Trade Partners

Markets of Other Major Exporters

Table 3 outlines trade relationships of the top four largest exporters of soybeans other than the US. China is a top partner for every one of these countries except Paraguay. 

Brazil is the world's largest export of soybeans. Still, over 70% of its soybean exports go to China. The EU is Brazil’s next largest partner at 8%. 

Argentina is also a major partner of China with over 80% of its soybean exports going to China. Egypt is Argentina’s next largest partner at 7%.  

Interestingly, Paraguay’s largest trade partner is Argentina, who is also a major soybean exporter. Argentina takes over 70% of Paraguay’s soybean exports. Russia is Paraguay’s next largest partner at 12%. 

Canada is the only top importer that does not have one partner with most of the market share. Canda’s top trade partner is China, taking 24% of its exports. Turkey, South Korea, and the EU are also important trade partners for Canada’s soybeans. 

Graph of Trade Partners of Major Soybean ExportersTable 3. Trade Partners of Other Major Exporters

Markets of Major Importers

Table 4 outlines the trade relationships of the four largest soybean importers in the world.

China is by far the largest importer of soybeans in the world. It sourced 63% of its soybean imports from Brazil from 2018-2022. The US was the second largest supplier with almost 30%.

The EU also imports a lot of soybeans from both Brazil and the US. Together they make up over 80% of the EU’s soybean imports. Canada and Ukraine are other minor suppliers.

Mexico sources almost all its soybean imports from the US and Brazil, with the US alone making up 88% of Mexico’s soybean imports from 2018-2022.

Argentina is unique in that it is both a major importer and exporter of soybeans. As noted earlier it exports a significant quantity of soybeans to China. But Argentina also imports a significant amount of soybeans from Paraguay. To a significant degree, the soybeans imported from Paraguay support Argentina’s soybean crushing industry as Argentina is a very large exported of soybean meal. Argentina also imports soybeans from the US and Brazil as well.

Graph of Trade Partners for Major Soybean ImportersTable 4. Trade Partners of Other Major Importers

Want More Market Analysis?

Iowa Farm Bureau's Economic Summit offers farmers expert answers to their most pressing questions about today's ag economy. 

The event (June 14 in Ankeny) will feature renowned Wall Street and Washington advisor Frank Kelly, President and CEO of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Austan Goolsbee, grain marketing economist Ed Usset and additional speakers with expertise in trade, ag lending, land values, the meat supply chain and more.

Click the "Learn More" button below to see the full lineup and register for the Economic Summit!