Native Hoosier and Undersecretary of agriculture for trade Ted McKinney has just wrapped up another trade mission, this one to the Philippines and Thailand.
In a call from Bangkok, McKinney said these two countries represent significant demand for U.S. farm products, “The Philippines is our 10th largest market for overall U.S. farm exports and Thailand represents our 13th largest market. So they fall into the category of countries that we do business with but where we may have not spent much time with on a senior government level.” He added that both have growing economies and a population that is becoming more western in their eating habits. Thus he feels there is potential growth for value-added products as well as commodities from the U.S.
While increasing sales is a goal, so is lowering trade tariffs these nations have on U.S. products, “In the case of Thailand, they still do not let in U.S. chilled or frozen turkey because of our avian influenza outbreak 2 years ago. We discussed market access during our visits.”
McKinney made it clear that these nations enjoy good access to the U.S. market and that he is using that as a way to gain better access to their market for U.S. farmers. “This is where some of the leverage the President has created is helping,” he stated. “People take note and want to make sure they are being free, fair, and reciprocal on trade with the U.S.” McKinney said he made it clear in his talks that, if they want to continue to enjoy the access the have to the U.S. market, they must provide better access to their market for U.S. farmers.
Since taking office, McKinney has traveled over 350,000 miles promoting U.S. agriculture.