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U.S. sorghum reaches Spain as traders divert more ships from China

* Vessel arrives in Tarragona to unload sorghum

* Ships with at least 180,000 T due to call at Tarragona

* Spain, EU import little sorghum, rarely from U.S.

* Traders divert U.S. sorghum from China after tariffs

By Valerie Parent and Clement Rouget

PARIS, May 11 (Reuters) - A rare cargo of U.S. sorghum has
arrived in Spain and will be followed by several more, shipping
data showed, a sign that Spain's livestock industry is set to
become one of the new homes for U.S. sorghum hit by Chinese
anti-dumping tariffs.

Exporters have been scrambling to divert hundreds of
thousands of tonnes of U.S. sorghum bound for China after
Beijing announced hefty anti-dumping deposits on the grain in
mid-April, part of a simmering trade dispute between the world's
two largest economies.

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

U.S. officials had already flagged sales of U.S. sorghum to
Spain, but the latest shipping data now shows that some has
actually arrived.

Thomson Reuters Eikon ship tracking data showed that the
Iolcos Fighter vessel reached Tarragona port in northeast Spain
on Thursday evening, and port listings seen by Reuters indicated
it was due to unload 56,500 tonnes of sorghum.

The listings also showed another three vessels carrying
sorghum are due to unload at Tarragona in the coming weeks - the
Theodor Oldendorff with 66,500 tonnes, the Port Dalian with
49,500 tonnes and the Skiathos with 69,000 tonnes.

Shipping data showed that each of the ships had initially
loaded in Texas. They had been heading towards Asia, with trade
sources saying they were all destined for China, before being
rerouted towards Spain.

The volume scheduled to unload at Tarragona broadly matches
the 182,551 tonnes of U.S. sorghum sales to Spain reported by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its last two weekly export
sales publications.

Some traders said Spain may receive a fifth vessel of U.S.
sorghum. The RB Eden carrying 70,000 tonnes of U.S. sorghum is
heading for the Canary Islands after initially sailing towards
Asia, and the traders expect it to sail on to mainland Spain.

Spain is a major importer of grain to feed its large
livestock herd, mostly pigs. But like other European Union
countries it consumes little sorghum, relying more on maize,
barley and wheat as animal feed cereals.

The EU had imported just 169,000 tonnes of sorghum so far in
the 2017/18 July-June marketing season as of May 8, mostly into
Spain but none of it from the United States, according to
official EU data.

Trade sources said the shipments to Spain were encouraged by
discounted prices and marketing efforts by U.S. grain
representatives.

After Beijing announced an anti-dumping investigation on
U.S. sorghum in February, the U.S. Grains Council cancelled a
trip to China and sent a delegation instead to Spain on March
18-23, the industry group said.

European traders said attractive prices, at below maize and
wheat rates, and the experience of some Spanish feed makers in
using sorghum helped to secure deals.

But they were cautious about a longer-term shift to U.S.
sorghum, saying further sales would depend on U.S.-Chinese trade
developments.

China's move followed on from an anti-dumping investigation
launched two months ago in retaliation for aggressive trade
actions by Washington, including steep tariffs on solar panels
and washing machines.

(Reporting by Valerie Parent, Clement Rouget and Gus Trompiz in
Paris; additional reporting by Michael Hirtzer and PJ
Huffstutter in Chicago and Dominique Patton in Beijing. Editing
by Jane Merriman)

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