Trade relations between the EU and US have been mired in bitter disputes over President Donald J. Trump‘s decision to slap sharp protectionist tariffs on key European exports – including steel and aluminium – which prompted European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss with Trump in July how best to maintain the relationship, despite the ongoing disagreements over the US’ tariff regime.

Immediately after their meeting, Juncker and Trump issued an EU-U.S. Joint Statement on July 25, in which the two sides agreed to increase trade in several areas and products, notably soya beans.

The EU currently imports about 14 million tonnes of soya beans per year as a source of protein to feed livestock as well as for milk production. Soya beans from the US are considered to be a very attractive feed option for European importers and users thanks to their competitive prices.

To monitor the evolution of trade in soya beans, Juncker put in place a reporting mechanism according to which imports from the United States increased by 133% compared to the same period in the previous year.

“The latest trade figures show that we are delivering on the commitment made by Presidents Juncker and Trump to increase trade, particularly in relation to soya beans. This reflects both our longstanding trade relationship and the potential to achieve so much more by working together to build on that relationship,” said Europe’s Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan.

Compared to the first 12 weeks of the 2017 marketing year (July to mid-September), EU imports of soya beans from the United States are up by 133% at 1,473,749 tonnes. At the time of the first reporting issued on August 1, and covering the first five weeks of the current marketing year, imports amounted to 360,000 tonnes, corresponding to a 280% year-on-year increase.

In terms of the EU’s total imports of soya beans, the U.S. share is now at 52%, compared to 25% in the same period last year.