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China the Main Trade Push Now, Next Comes Japan

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While trade talks between the US and China have the world’s attention, two top USDA trade officials say after progress is made there, the next focus is expected to be Japan.

“I hope everybody gets the sense of urgency on my part with regard to US ag exports to Japan,” said U.S. Trade Representatives’ Office Chief Ag Negotiator Gregg Doud.

“My sense is we can’t get to Japan fast enough,” Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney added.

Doud and McKinney spoke on the subject at the USDA Outlook Forum. They say the urgency to reach a bilateral deal with Japan stems from similar agreements made by that nation in recent months with competitor countries, deals that could impact Japanese bound US ag exports. And while Undersecretary McKinney says that while US-Japanese relations remain strong, he acknowledges, “After a while price can wear away. That’s why I think there’s this urgency to get to Japan so we can maintain that market presence.”

More USDA-led agricultural trade missions are planned for this year as part of continuing efforts to expand ag export opportunities. The aggressive approach towards ag trade missions can be seen in the numbers, according to McKinney.

“Last year we did six,” he said.

For 2019 seven ag trade missions to developed and developing markets are scheduled.

“And we’re enjoying them so much that we’ve enlisted the secretary to go on one and the deputy secretary go on one.”

He adds this is just part of USDA’s overall strategy to diversify market opportunities for our nation’s ag exports.

“It’s recognizing that we need to diversify the portfolio, make sure we’re working closely with friends around the world and yes, always working to fill market needs. Those countries where the US has done so much business for the years, we’re ready to do more, but so too are we after and interested in working with those countries that we may not have worked so closely with.”

Source: USDA