(Corrects headline to refer to export sales, not shipments)
CHICAGO, March 12 (Reuters) - U.S. export sales of pork to China hit their lowest on record in the week ended March 5 even as access to ports improved in the world's top consumer of pork, the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA)said on Thursday.
The USDA's weekly report showed that Chinese buyer cancellations pushed down total export sales to China to negative 45,222 tonnes of pork, the lowest since record keeping began in 2013 and eclipsing the previous record of negative 17,614 tonnes of export sales in the week ended Jan. 2.
Pork shipments to China totaled 139,719 tonnes, reflecting earlier export sales.
China's top container ports are loosening the backlog of cargoes on their docks as workers return to their jobs after coronavirus travel curbs that kept them away and jammed up global supply chains have been eased.
Net sales of soybeans to China, typically the top destination for the oilseed, were negative 90,281 tonnes, the smallest since the week ended Aug. 5, 2019 when USDA reported that cancellations pushed soybean sales to China to negative 422,658 tonnes.
Traders have been closely watching for exports to China to pick up since Beijing and Washington inked a Phase 1 trade pact in mid-January. (Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by David Gregorio)