Dr. Oliveira published in the Journal of Latin American Geography

Dr. Oliveira’s article “The Battle of the Beans: How Direct Brazil-China Soybean Trade Was Stillborn in 2004” has just been published in a special issue on “New Geographies of China and Latin America Relations” in the Journal of Latin American Geography.

ABSTRACT: In 2004, Brazilian soybean cooperatives in Rio Grande do Sul state and the Chinese state-owned agroindustrial commodity trading company Chinatex orchestrated the first direct soybean shipments between both countries. By that moment, China had flipped from a net soybean exporter in the previous decade to the world’s leading importer of this commodity, and Brazilian exports were mushrooming to attend this demand. However, powerful trading corporations from the US and western Europe dominated this international trade. Thus, the attempt to establish direct shipments between Brazilian producers to China was integral to efforts by agribusinesses in these emerging economies to wrest control over the profits and flows of this burgeoning and strategic sector. However, this first partnership for direct soybean trade became embroiled in a convoluted crisis involving the legalization of transgenic soybeans in Brazil, widespread contamination of shipments with pesticide-covered seeds, record volatility in soybean prices, and the ensuing collapse and foreign take-over of the Chinese soybean trade and processing industry—dubbed the “Battle of the Beans” in Chinese media. Drawing on extended interviews with the key protagonists of this decisive moment in the restructuring of international agribusiness markets, I describe how direct Brazil-China soybean trade was spectacularly stillborn, consolidating the oligopoly of agribusiness trading companies from the Global North over international soybean markets for another decade. I argue this particular moment was one of the most important events in the construction of the new geography of Brazil-China relations, and we can only understand how its specific convergences and divergences emerged through grounded, transnational, and ethno-graphically-nuanced analysis. Thus, my investigation provides unprecedented insight into the political and economic conjuncture in which South-South cooperation is pursued between China and its largest commercial partner in Latin America, even while it reproduces agroindustrial production and trade relations that benefit transnational elites at the expense of the majority of peasants, workers, and the environment in both China and Latin America.
KEYWORDS: Brazil, China, global ethnography, soy, international trade

The Journal of Latin American Geography is published by the Conference of Latin American Geography (est. 1970) and distributed by the University of Texas Press. According to Google Scholar, it is the sixth highest ranked journal of Latin American studies.

For the full length article, see: http://muse.jhu.edu/article/701025