Export expansion a success in 2018

By Justin Walker

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had a successful 2018 in terms of export expansion.

USDA officials achieved their goal of expanding export opportunities for U.S. farm and food products over the previous year, according to Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride (last) year, but U.S. farm exports remain strong, thanks in no small part to the efforts of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS),” McKinney said. “Under the leadership of Administrator Ken Isley, who joined the agency in March, FAS has been instrumental in the administration’s efforts to promote free, fair and reciprocal trade.”

A significant achievement for 2018 was the negotiation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Dozens of experts from across FAS worked side-by-side with our partners in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure the best deal for U.S. agriculture, ultimately ensuring preferential access for U.S. exports and solidifying commitments to fair and science-based trade rules,” McKinney said.

USDA worked to break down barriers and seek access to new markets for agricultural exports. Due to their efforts, new deals were made for items to be introduced or reintroduced to countries, including dairy and poultry to Canada, lamb and goat meat to Japan and beef and pork to Argentina.

Hundreds of shipments detained at foreign ports were also released, thanks to FAS staff. More than $77 million of perishable U.S. goods reached their final destinations with USDA’s intervention, including beef to Bulgaria, cherries to Taiwan and cranberries to China.

“We continue to focus our efforts on trade promotion, cultivating relationships with overseas customers and helping U.S. businesses get their products into new markets,” McKinney said.

Six agricultural trade missions were sponsored by FAS during 2018. These efforts resulted in more than 200 U.S. companies and organizations interacting with foreign buyers in 3,000 one-on-one meetings.

USDA also endorsed 19 trade shows in 14 countries around the globe, helping more than 900 American-based companies reach potential customers. These companies reported $296 million in on-site sales and $2 billion in projected 12-month sales.

“From Central America to Southeast Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s been gratifying to witness the world’s receptiveness to U.S. farm and food products. Consumers worldwide have a true affinity for the American brand and immediately recognize the safety and quality of our products,” McKinney said.

Officials sought every opportunity for exporting agricultural goods in 2018, McKinney said.

“We’re looking forward to great things in 2019, including the pursuit of even stronger trade ties with partners such as Japan and the United Kingdom, the forging of new business relationships through seven agricultural trade missions, and further success in knocking down both tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade,” he said.