Ag Policy Blog

Trump Trade Team Scores Some Ag Wins

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Pork to Argentina, poultry to South Korea and expanded access for rice to Colombia.

Thursday was kind of a busy afternoon in the trade arena for the Trump administration and agriculture. The administration made good on removal of some trade barriers that have troubled a few major commodities.

First, the White House announced a 25-year-old ban on U.S. pork was being lifted by Argentina. President Donald Trump had mentioned the ban as far back as April to Argentina President Maurico Macri. Vice President Mike Pence then visited Argentina earlier this week and was able to advance the conversation. Argentina doesn't import much and officials estimated roughly $10 million in potential sales, but it's a foot in the door.

I talked to a couple of industry officials and looked at a couple of industry reports on-line. Nobody could definitively explain what caused Argentina to shut off access in the first place.

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Rice Access in Colombia

Then USDA announced Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative had reached an agreement with Colombia to allow expanded U.S. access for paddy rice. Under an agreement reached in 2012, U.S. paddy rice was allowed in, but under strict requirements related to phytosanitary concerns. The new agreement will loosen the rules and expands access beyond one single Colombian port.

Milled rice exports to Colombia have gone up to an average of $79 million a year, compared to $3 million in 2011, before the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Paddy rice, or "rough" rice" has seen exports reach about $15 million. Under the new agreement on paddy rice, costly and unnecessary fumigation and processing requirements are rescinded, and access expanded to all ports of entry in Colombia.

Perdue stated, “Today’s announcement is another great testament of our determination to expand export opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers and to ensure fair trade with our international partners. This agreement expands opportunities for U.S. rice producers in the important Colombian market. It also underscores the value of improved relationships to solve problems, based on a solid trade agreement that benefits both parties and on a commitment to science-based rule-making.”

Poultry to South Korea

The hits just kept coming. USDA announced South Korea had lifted its ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products, which stemmed from the highly-pathogenic avian influenza outbreak.

The U.S. alerted the World Organization for Animal Health on Aug. 11 that it is now free of highly-pathogenic avian influenza. That allowed South Korea to reopen the market. However, the U.S. is trying to work with the South Korean government to prevent South Korea from all-out bans in the future if further highly-pathogenic avian influenza cases are found. Before the ban, the U.S. exported $122 million in poultry products, including eggs to South Korea as recently as 2014. But that figure fell to just $39 million last year.

At a press conference in Panama earlier Thursday, Vice President Pence offered some praise for his boss regarding some recent trade moves involving agriculture. Pence cited an agreement already announced in Colombia easing trade in Colombian Hass avocados and American rough rice. He added: "Just moments ago, President Trump announced that after 25 years of barriers American pork will once again be able to be exported to Argentina."

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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