USDA Ag Outlook Forum: How the Invasion of Ukraine has Effected Trade
Military aggression between Russia and Ukraine was part of the conversation at the USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum.
The USDA Ag Outlook Forum featured resilience, sustainability, and inclusion as common themes in the opening session on trade. Another key topic, the invasion of Ukraine. Ambassador Tai said the US will stand with NATO allies.
“This is an area where I know that we are going to have to work very closely to assess where the impacts are going to be. Especially when it comes to agricultural trade. You know, Ukraine is an agricultural powerhouse. And think through again, how our trade policies take into account the foreign policy means but also our domestic economic needs to ensure that we can be the kind of trading partner that our allies need us to be and how we take care of our own.”
Wheat and oil prices have been reacting to headlines as the situation unfolds, but Vilsack said they are monitoring conditions.
“It’s the fourth largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. So obviously, there are some serious issues. And it’s exports. Interestingly, in a lot of different areas, it exports quite a bit to China. It exports quite a bit to the Middle East and Africa, North Africa, and also to Europe as well. And so, it does and will have an impact. So, it is something we’re going to keep an eye on.”
As the conversation turned to other parts of the world, Tai called the trade relationship with China “profoundly consequential” but admitted that it was getting more difficult.
“We have had very direct honest respectful conversations with the Chinese for the last couple months since the beginning of the beginning of October around how can we hold China accountable for these commitments? How do we make good on disagreement? I will share with you and all of our stakeholders that these have not been easy conversations, and in fact they have gotten more difficult over time.”
The administration has faced some criticism over their perceived lack of action securing new trade deals, but Tai told the forum trade agreements are not the only measure of success.
“We have other types of engagement vehicles. One of the most important are TIFUS, the trade and investment framework agreements. Those are foundational agreements that are there to enhance collaboration and cooperation and we often forget about them.”
The US has over 40 of these agreements and she says they have contributed significantly to the gains made over the past year in the pacific where the administration is actively establishing an Indo-Pacific economic framework.
Tai also told Vilsack she sees “huge potential” for USTR to collaborate with USDA in policy making to innovate and come up with new ways of working with trade partners.