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Vessels Carrying U.S. Sorghum to China Switch Destinations to Japan, S.Korea

BEIJING, May 10 (Reuters) - Three ships carrying livestock feed grain, sorghum, from the U.S. to China switched their destinations on Thursday to Japan and South Korea, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon ship tracking data, after Beijing hit imports with hefty anti-dumping deposits.

The cargoes are among roughly two dozen bought by China but left stranded after Beijing announced last month it would hit U.S. imports with a 178.6 percent deposit on the value of sorghum shipments. The move was part of an anti-dumping probe by China as trade tensions with the U.S. escalate.

Sorghum is mainly used in livestock feed and the fiery Chinese liquor baijiu.

The 'Ocean Belt' carrying 58,000 tonnes of sorghum from the United States switched its destination from China to Kashima, Japan, according to the data.

It had loaded U.S. sorghum from trader Cargill's Houston grain elevator in Texas and departed on March 31 for Guangzhou in southern China, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

It stopped in the Pacific Ocean on April 18 and was "not under command" until switching its destination on Thursday to Japan. It is now underway and due to arrive in Japan on May 25, according to the data.

Another vessel, the Ocean Favour, which also loaded the grain at Cargill's Houston elevator, switched destinations from Nansha port in China to South Korea. A third vessel carrying sorghum, the Stamford Eagle, changed its destination from Qingdao to Japan earlier on Thursday.

Two people with Cargill's communications team did not answer calls late on Thursday.

Exporters facing losses of millions of dollars on their cargoes have been trying to resell the grain to buyers elsewhere but are being forced to offer steep discounts.

Three cargoes have been resold to Saudi Arabia and several more are heading for Spain.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue and Elaine Hardcastle)

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