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McKinney Leads Ag Trade Mission to Central America

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McKinney Leads Ag Trade Mission to Central America

In Guatemala this week, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney (right) toured the terminal at Port Quetzal where 60 percent of U.S. bulk grain exports to Guatemala are received. Since enactment of the CAFTA-DR trade agreement, U.S. agricultural exports to Guatemala have nearly doubled.

An Ag Trade Mission is wrapping up in Central America led by USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney. He began his trip in Guatemala on Feb. 26, heading a delegation of leaders from 34 agribusiness and trade associations and seven state departments of agriculture. Those numbers were nearly all-time highs for Ag Trade Missions and McKinney says over 450 business-to-business meetings took place.

“These were not just, ‘Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you,’ (meetings). I mean they were really, really doing business, some contracts were written, and that’s what we want.”

McKinney says the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA-DR, is working.

“I’m bullish on this part of the world. I do believe there are opportunities for export, just as I believe there are opportunities for import. We see CAFTA working. Sure, there’s always things you have to work on, probably both ways, but we see CAFTA working and we hope that if there’s any upgrading there that we can sustain it.

When asked if he was glad about about Gregg Doud’s approval by the Senate to become Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, McKinney responded, “Yes, exclamation point! I think he is probably the perfect person for that job. And we’re thrilled that not only is he approved, but my very good friend, and I would say your good friend, Bill Northey is also now approved…I tell you, it brings a smile to lips to see that those two talents are finally able to get to work.”