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USDA Outlines Trade Priorities at Ag Outlook Forum


Growing agriculture’s exports remains a top priority for USDA. During last week’s Ag Outlook Forum, Jason Hafemeister, the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for and Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and the Trade Counsel to the Secretary, highlighted specific growth opportunities for US agriculture.

He says it all starts with China. “Total imports in China grew from $60 billion in 2010 to over $140 billion in 2020, so a growing market where we want to compete.”

Hafemeister says Japan is also an opportunity for growth.

“So, this is a mature market. It is a top 6 market for us. But they’re not increasing in population, they’re not eating any more, so it’s really a fight for share there. It is a high price, high quality, market, so it’s a place we want to do business.”

Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and India account for $15 billion in ag exports today, but Hafemeister believes it could be a lot more.

“[They’re] Growing economies, growing populations… we’ve got lots of competitive advantages and we face lots of barriers into these markets. So, certainly, any sort of US strategy going forward is going to look at a way to expand our opportunities here into these growth markets.”

Mexico is already a big trade partner of ours, but Hafemeister says we can still do more.

“We’ve got NAFTA and that has kept the market open, so we’ve got dominant market share. 90 percent of Mexican imports of soybeans and corn are from the United States. You know, 70 percent of the total agriculture products come from the United States. We don’t want to upset this market. It’s a top market for us. We’ve plateaued in our sales there over the last decade or so, but we still see market potential.  The market is a growing economy. There still is more need for calories in Mexico, and so there’s a real opportunity for us to grow.”

Hafemeister also lists the EU as a target for potential growth.