Deep Dive Into Trade

Jason Hafemeister takes a deep dive into the U.S. trade landscape during USSEC’s learning session at the 2021 virtual Commodity Classic.  

Roughly 60 percent of the U.S. soybean crop is exported each year, making trade increasingly important. Taking a look at both past trends and future expectations helps to create a full picture of U.S. agricultural trade. Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA), did just that during the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s (USSEC) learning session. “Trade is critical to U.S. agriculture,” Hafemeister said. Because U.S. farmers are surplus producers, trade is necessary to increase profits, investments and, in turn, production. All sectors export and most have a trade surplus, he explained.

Over 60 percent of total U.S. exports are sold and shipped to six top customers: China, Canada, European Union, Japan, Mexico and South Korea. Maintaining relationships with these six export markets remains a priority in ensuring a consistent future for agricultural trade.

However, Hafemeister said the other 40 percent of U.S.  exports, the “long tail”, are still important. Their growing populations and growing markets make them markets of potential. This 40 percent will be getting some attention in the coming years.

The narrative changes slightly when looking at soybean exports specifically. China dominates soybean exports, Hafemeister said. But there have been fluctuations in recent years.

The impact of trade wars was discussed throughout the session, including changes in market share, prices and more. Today, the U.S. is in more stiff competition in China, especially with Brazil.

Hafemeister is hopeful this market share will improve moving forward.

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