MENA Buyer Team Visits Washington, D.C. Prior to U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange

By - Monday, September 12, 2016
MENA Buyer Team1

A team of ten major traders from the Middle East / North Africa (MENA) region visited Washington D.C. on August 29, prior to the 2016 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange.

The series of industry visits was arranged by USSEC in cooperation with the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the United Soybean Board (USB).

The group first met with Mark Smith, International Marketing Specialist at the Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS), before meeting with Mark Miller, International Programs Office Director, of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Mr. Miller first provided a background and overview of NASS operations, which provide timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture, before discussing U.S. data collection methods, prospective plantings, yield forecasting process, and stocks analysis.

The delegation next spoke with Justin Choe, Oilseeds Analyst at the Office of Global Analysis (OGA).   Mr. Choe provided a background on FAS global agriculture analysis, went over global supply and demand reports, and discussed global collection methods and supply/demand reporting and analysis system, in addition to providing market intelligence, forecasting and analysis. He also spoke about how data is processed, analyzed, forecast, and shared.

Maria Rakhovskaya, International Marketing Specialist at FAS, talked about the primary roles of FAS, the Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs (OASA) and the Plant Division before George Galasso, National Trade Director, Grains Programs, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) spoke to them.

USDA Grain Marketing Specialist Jennifer Weiland spoke on behalf of the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GPISA) about the ragweed and ambrosia import issue in Egypt.

Jonathan Doster, Branch Chief of FAS’s Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102) spoke to the MENA team about how the program works. The GSM-102 provides credit guarantees that can encourage financing to importers and promotes the exports of U.S. soybeans and soybean products.

Several of the MENA importers provided feedback, saying that the meetings gave them additional insight into making more informed business decisions.

“For a long time, we follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports and we time our calendar for buying and hedging with these reports. Visiting the USDA in Washington was very beneficial to the MENA team. It gave the team a closer look of how the reports are prepared. The speakers explained the confidentiality of the information before issuing the report.  Also, they explained the big effort in issuing the reports and the accuracy of them. Mr. Justin Choe explained how the USDA analyzes the data they receive domestically and globally.  It is amazing to see that so many people are involved in getting the reports on time and so much work is done to make it as accurate as possible. Overall, our visit to Washington was successful and very much educational to all the team members.”

 – Ammar Bardan

I would like to extend to you my utmost thanks for inviting me to the Global Trade Exchange in Indianapolis. Further, I would like to thank you even more for the meeting at the USDA. The opportunity to sit face-to-face with the people who greatly affect my business decisions 12 times a year has proven enlightening. Though I didn’t see eye-to-eye with them, it still gave me a closer idea as to how they formulate their numbers, and having known that, I can plan future business decisions accordingly. Thank you again, and I hope that you present me with this opportunity again when possible.”

Shehab Ghoniem

“First, I would like to thank you so much for the opportunity you opened for our company to meet the USDA team in Washington (FGIS/APHIS teams). The negotiation we had gave us the opportunity to better understand the problem with the Egyptian government regarding the ambrosia. We had a better understanding of the U.S. point of view, and it was a good chance to show our point of view! We hope to continue those fruitful meetings and keep channels opened that will positively help us solving such issues!”

Amir Wasef

The USDA meeting was very well organized and well structured. It exceeded our expectations concerning the in depth discussion on the following topics, which shows the high interest of the USDA for Egypt and the Middle East region.

“The programs offered from the USDA will give the importers and traders a great opportunity to expand their business, especially the GSM program.

  • The quality assurance procedures presented during the meeting shows how much the USDA is taking all necessary measures to ensure that the exported commodities from the U.S. region pass through several levels of sampling and checking to avoid any below standards quality passing.

  • The presentation of the procedures taken from the USDA to prepare the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report (WASDE) grains and oilseeds crop reports.

  • The challenges that face imports of U.S. products to Egypt, e.g. the ambrosia and ragweed restrictions and discussions around how the USDA is interacting with CMPQ in Egypt.”

Ahmed Nabil