2020 Ag Trade Outlook

Numerous trade deals have been struck between nations, in the midst of all the havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating opportunities which have, in some cases, at least, help to mitigate the fallout.

When you look at the toll coronavirus has taken on international trade, the numbers are telling: total US Ag exports are down 3%. However, there is a silver lining: US ag exports to China within that decline of 3% are actually up 11%.

US Trade Representative Gregg Doud is the agency’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator. He’s predicting unprecedented exports. He says that, on Sept 1, we should have record a high number of soy sales for China and for the world. That’s due, in part, to the Phase One agreement with China.

And there have been other trade deals secured with Canada, Mexico, and Japan. In addition, the US is working on deals with the United Kingdom, Kenya, India, and Egypt – and there’s an ethanol deal in the works with Brazil.

But Doud says that patience is needed. He reminds producers that “When we make changes to negotiations and trade agreements, it sometimes takes years to see the results of that. We’ve gone many, many years in agriculture without anything on the horizon, in terms of new trade agreements, and now we have 47% of our trade that has really changed just in the last few months. It’s going to take a little time for all of this to kick in, but I think we are already beginning to see fruits of our labor.”

Doud spoke at the USSEC Global Trade Exchange and Specialty Grain Conference. As a final evidence of success, he notes that before the Phase One trade agreement, only 1,500 facilities were eligible for export. Now 3,500 can do so, as a result of changes made so far this year.