Top USDA trade officials in a Zoom panel discussion hosted by the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research and C-FARE say Asia continues to be key to expanding U.S. farm trade, but the Biden Administration is still deciding its trade agenda.
USDA Trade Counsel Jason Hafemeister says the U.S. made up 80-percent of its TPP withdrawal losses in its deal with Japan, but remains on the “outside, looking in” on CPTPP that followed and other deals.
“So, we need some response to make sure we are on the same playing field as our competitors.”
But the administration is still undecided on its trade approach.
“Now, I don’t know if that’s through WTO, I don’t know if it’s through TPP, I don’t know if we take these countries on, one at a time, but I know that we don’t want to fall behind.”
But there’s growing frustration among farm interests, the U.S. will fall behind, the longer the White House waits to move on trade, especially in Asia.
Shawn Arita, a senior USDA economist, says China’s Phase I 12-month buys to this April at $33 billion, have exceeded expectations as it recovers from African Swine Fever, with more purchases underway.
“We have commitments for over 22-million metric tons of corn for this marketing year, alone. China recently booked over 10-million metric tons for next marketing year, some for crop that is currently being planted. And it’s not just corn—we look at soybeans, cotton, sorghum, beef, wheat, China has been, we’ve been booking a lot of sales, far exceeding previous years.”
But Arita says it’s unknown if China will continue implementing Phase I or revert to previous trade barriers. Also, unknown, if the Biden team will pursue a Phase II China deal, or deals with the UK, EU, Kenya and others.
Source: NAFB News Service