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Argentina soybean exports to grow 15.4 mln tonnes on Chinese demand

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Argentina's soybean exports will grow 15.4 million tonnes in the 2018-19 harvest season, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Wednesday, citing strong demand in China driven by its ongoing trade dispute with the United States.

That was four times more than last season, when a severe drought sapped Argentina's grain export sector, cutting profits and contributing to Argentina's current economic woes.

China is the world's largest importer of soybeans, and has been forced to look for alternative suppliers during a trade dispute with Washington that has cut off its purchases of U.S. exports.

"China is beginning to import whole beans. If the trade war continues, China will max out its purchases of Argentine and Brazilian soybeans," Agustin Tejeda, head economic analyst at the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange told reporters on Wednesday.

The exchange estimated the 2018-19 soybean harvest at 53 million tonnes, up from the 35.1 million last season.

Argentina's soy harvest produced 54 million tonnes in 2016-17 under normal weather conditions. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath, Writing by Scott Squires; Editing by David Gregorio)

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