The USDA is planning four more in-person trade missions around the world this year, including trips to the United Kingdom and Kenya, countries with which the Trump administration has opened negotiations for free trade agreements.
The Biden administration is not announcing the resumption of these negotiations, but it is targeting them in an attempt to open agricultural trade by marketing American products.
Also on the agenda for trade missions this year are Spain and the Philippines, a country that began importing significantly more U.S. pork last year after temporarily increasing its quota by more than 400% to 254,000 metric tons and reducing its rates in half for 15%.
The post-pandemic resumption of in-person trade missions — USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Daniel Whitley led the first in February in Dubai — is just part of an administration effort Biden to encourage the U.S. agricultural sector to reduce its reliance on exports to China and diversify its overseas markets, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a trip to New Orleans this week .
Alluding to the trade war with China under the Trump administration, when American farmers essentially lost the Chinese market until the “phase one” deal was done, Vilsack repeatedly stressed the need for expand the scope of foreign buyers.
Vilsack, standing Thursday at a Cargill terminal in New Orleans where a ship was loaded with 75,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to China and another was loading 60,000 tons of corn for delivery to Japan, stressed the need for diversification into foreign markets and promised The USDA will expand on this message by increasing marketing activities.
“We have to look for new and better markets and that could be in Southeast Asia, Africa or Latin America,” Vilsack told reporters.
This may not be easy, as China – the largest overseas market for US agriculture – continues to import record amounts from the United States.
The latest USDA trade data shows that during the week of Feb. 25 to March 3, Chinese importers have pledged to buy about 1.1 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans for delivery during the marketing year. 2021-22 ongoing. This represented about half of the week’s total sales. And China was also again the main destination for shipments. The United States shipped 304,600 tons of soybeans to China from February 25 to March 3.
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